People who have a minority ethnic background often face additional barriers when they need to access mental health services and information. Alongside this, when they do access services, they can experience difficulties accessing appropriate care and treatment that is culturally sensitive.
Mental health and psychiatric services are usually based on a western understanding of mental illness, often using the medical model to treat the illness. This can sometimes be at odds with the cultural, spiritual or religious beliefs of people from black and minority ethnic groups.
The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) describes the general picture in the UK; they see people from black and minority ethnic groups as being more likely:
- to be diagnosed with mental health problems
- to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital
- to experience a poor outcome from treatment
- to disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.
Some of the significant causes of this are:
- Racism, including individual and institutional racism
- Inequality and social disadvantage in areas such as housing, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system
- Poverty and financial disadvantage
- Social isolation of some ethnic groups
- Mainstream mental health services not understanding the specific needs of people from black and minority ethnic groups
- Mainstream mental health services not providing services that meet the specific needs of people from black and minority ethnic groups
- Mental health problems not being reported/treated because some people from black and minority ethnic groups do not want to use mainstream mental health services. Linked to this is some people seeking treatment later, when their case is more severe.
- Over-diagnosis of people for whom English is not their first language
- Mental health issues not being recognised as such within some ethnic groups
Information in Community Languages
Here are some mental health information resources that are available in a range of community languages:
- London Health Programmes have translated their self help guides on depression, panic attacks and stress and worry.
- Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Trust provide a huge range of information leaflets, some of these have been translated into a variety of languages. The easiest way to find them is to search for a particular language in the search box at the top of the screen on this page. You will then be given a list of all the leaflets in that language. There is also an option to view the whole website in languages other than English. Scroll to the very bottom of this page and click on ‘Translation’.
- The Royal College of Psychiatrists offer translations of their mental health information resources.
- There are a number of organisations in Sheffield providing services to specific black and minority ethnic communities, you can search for them in the ‘Support’ section of this guide.