Ethnic minorities experience persisting inequality in treatment for mental health problems

mental health treatment
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

New research from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London has assessed the prevalence of common mental health problems experienced by people from ethnic minority backgrounds and investigated the longstanding treatment inequalities experienced in these groups.

The paper, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, used data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, and found that people from all ethnic minority groups were less likely to receive a range of interventions for problems like depression or anxiety compared to White British people.

The study compared data collected during 2007 and 2014. The investigators not only found that White British people had the highest likelihood for receiving treatment compared to people from all other , but also that the inequality gap widened during that 7 year period, for Black people with these conditions.

The researchers suggest that persistent inequalities emphasize the urgent need to improve access to existing therapies for common mental problems, and the need to design and invest in mental health support options that are appropriate for people from ethnic minority backgrounds, where needs are not being met by existing services.

"This study underlines how the mental health needs of minoritised communities in England are not being met. Our research illustrates a concerning trend of declining access to help for common mental health problems, especially for Black communities, but all minority in our study encountered unequal access to mental healthcare. It has been twenty years since the last nationally detailing the mental health of minority ethnic communities in Britain was conducted. There is an urgent need to follow up our study with a nationally representative survey of ethnic minority mental health, to better understand the reasons for these disparities," Dr. Jayati Das-Munshi, senior author from King's IOPPN and the Centre for Society and Mental Health said.

Gargie Ahmad, the study's first author from King's IoPPN said, "Our findings reflect an enduring pattern for people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the UK being less likely to receive appropriate help for common , in contrast to stark overrepresentation, particularly for Black people, in being detained under the Mental Health Act at points of crisis.

"We urgently need more and better research, investigating how and why these inequalities persist. This means investing in qualitative studies and surveys, boosted to ensure enough participants from ethnic and other marginalized groups are recruited and represented."

More information: Gargie Ahmad et al, Prevalence of common mental disorders and treatment receipt for people from ethnic minority backgrounds in England: repeated cross-sectional surveys of the general population in 2007 and 2014, The British Journal of Psychiatry (2021). DOI: 10.1192/bjp.2021.179

Journal information: British Journal of Psychiatry
Citation: Ethnic minorities experience persisting inequality in treatment for mental health problems (2022, January 13) retrieved 12 July 2024 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Vaccine hesitancy linked to previous experiences of discrimination in healthcare staff


Feedback to editors