Demand for royal commission into why system fails ethnic minorities

A top government adviser has called for an official inquiry into why the mental health system is failing people from ethnic minorities.

Mental Health Act Commission chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel said young Asian men could be the next group of vulnerable people to be over-represented in the system if action was not taken now.

He said the inquiry should be led by a royal commission or special committee and also examine the mental health bill, which is expected this autumn.

Patel also criticised the lack of money spent by the government on its flagship programme, Delivering Race Equality, to improve the experiences of ethnic minorities in the mental health system.

He said co-ordination with other policy areas, such as education and the criminal justice system, needed to improve.

His comments came days after health minister Rosie Winterton said mental health care for ethnic minorities was unacceptable and discriminating.

In a letter to strategic health authorities published last week, Winterton said she was “disappointed” with progress towards appointing the 500 community development workers needed to implement Delivering Race Equality.

The Department of Health admitted the figure would not be reached by the target date of December this year and has put the date back by 12 months.

The experience of black people in the mental health system
The first racial census of the mental health system in England and Wales found last year that black people were three times more likely to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals than the rest of the community.

Black people were also up to 44 per cent more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act. A census update, expected  ater this year, is not expected to show much improvement.

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