Mental health needs of ethnic minority children ‘overlooked’

Agencies, including social services, are "systematically failing" to address the mental health needs of black and minority ethnic (BME) children and young people, according to a report by The Afiya Trust. Picture: Alamy

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Agencies, including social services, are “systematically failing” to address the mental health needs of black and minority ethnic (BME) children and young people, according to a report by The Afiya Trust.

Published yesterday, Enjoy, Achieve and Be Healthy: The Mental Health of Black and Minority Ethnic Children and Young People, found BME children’s mental health needs are overlooked by professionals, and highlighted a lack of data on the issue.

It pointed out that although recent government research revealed 20% of children are believed to have a mental health problem, it is not know how many are from BME backgrounds.

And despite a breakdown of disorders being available for BME adults, none is available for BME children who face an increased risk of racism, racial harassment and racial bullying, the report found. This has yet to be explained why, the report claimed.

Afiya Trust chief Patrick Vernon, also a member of the ministerial advisory group on the government’s mental health strategy, said the report was commissioned because BME children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing “is being systematically failed by education, criminal justice, health and social care services”.

The report captures the challenges they face, the ineffectiveness of service provision and the woeful lack of the most basic information about them,” he said.

Vernon plans to present the report to care services minister Paul Burstow.

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