Services fail to meet mental health needs of minority communities

Mental health services for black and ethnic minority communities
in London are still failing to meet clients’ needs sufficiently, a
new report has found, writes Derren

The report by health thinktank The Kings Fund said services were
particularly inaccessible to women and asylum seekers, which is
compounded by staff being insufficiently equipped to assess their
specific needs.

‘Ethnic Diversity and Mental Health in London: Recent
Developments’ found that health action zones and local
implementation schemes have created more opportunities for
partnership and consultation with the BME community, but that
services are still too slow to address inequality issues,
exacerbating mental health problems in the capital.

It said BME women remained marginalised, and were often viewed
stereotypically as “loud and difficult to manage” or
having problems exclusively rooted in “cultural conflict or
practice”. The needs of women with children were also not

“Many BME women only access services at crisis point. This
is because of their experience of services as inappropriate, their
lack of confidence and trust in the service and inadequate
knowledge of what is available,” it said.

There were high levels of unmet need among refugees and asylum
seekers, with staff being inadequately equipped to assess their
needs and unsure of their rights to access services.

The report called on primary care trusts to lead local action to
tackle inequality issues in mental health, with health promotion
being a “powerful” means to raise awareness about the
issue and increase access to services.

It also recommended more gender-specific advocacy services,
greater availability of interpreting and first-language services
and improved training and information about asylum seekers’

Download report

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