Mental health: ethnic minority groups still over-represented

The proportion of people from ethnic minorities receiving in-patient mental health services is still showing no signs of reduction, a Care Quality Commission survey revealed today.

The fifth annual Count Me In census found that 22% of the 30,500 people receiving in-patient care in England and Wales were from ethnic minority groups, as of 31 March this year.

The proportion is down by a percentage point from last year’s census but is still above the baseline of 2005, when the proportion was 20%, the CQC found.

The 2001 UK census showed that ethnic minority communities made up less than 9% of the overall UK population.

Admission rates were over three times higher than average among mixed race white/black Caribbean, mixed white/black African, black Caribbean and black African groups.

Rates were nine times higher than average in the “other Black” group.

The disproportionately high rates of detention under the Mental Health Act for these groups also continued.

The CQC report concluded that key targets to reduce admission, detention and seclusion rates among ethnic minority groups, outlined in the Delivering Race Equality action plan, were not being met. The five-year plan to reduce racial inequalities in the mental health system was published in 2005.

Services ‘not failing’ patients

However, the CQC emphasised this did not mean services were failing ethnic minority patients and said the findings needed to be interpeted in the context of available evidence on ethnic differences in rates of mental illness, pathways to care, and factors such as socio-economic disadvantage.

It said the government’s vision for the future of mental health, New Horizons, had the potential to reduce the burden of mental illness and the need for secondary care services among ethnic minorities.

The report underlined the need for better local strategic needs assessments and community-based services to reduce the risk of admission and detention.


Among seven recommendations, the report said statutory bodies should also commission and deliver fair, personalised and effective services that reduced mental ill-health among ethnic minority groups, and improved care pathways for those who became mentally unwell.

The CQC also urged trusts and independent providers to continue to record accurate patient information. This will support their compliance with the new system of registration, which comes into effect in April.

CQC chair Jo Williams added that the regulator would also be “examining the responsibility of commissioners to clamp down on poor practice”.

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