Black and Ethnic Minority Communities and Their Mental Health

The variety and pervasiveness of mental health problems between ethnic groups reflects the diversity of socio-economic and cultural experiences.

Introduction

People who belong in ethnic minority groups in the UK are:

  • More at risk for mental health problems
  • More at risk to have poor outcome from their treatment
  • more at risk to be diagnosed and be admitted to the hospital
  • more at risk to be socially excluded as a result from their deterioration in mental health
  • more at risk to likely to separate themselves from conventional mental health services

Racism and poverty can explain these factors better than anything else. This can also be a result of the typical mental health services not being able to meet their needs and demands. Ethnic minority groups are also reluctant to engage in modern treatment aside from their traditional medicines which makes it harder for them to get better. Their problems go unreported and they might have problems regarding their ability to speak English for their communication.

Irish people

For the Irish people in UK, they are the highest minority group to have been admitted in hospitals for their mental health problems as compared to ethnic groups. They also have higher rates of alcohol abuse and depression. They are also highly likely to commit suicide. These conditions can be brought about by the social disadvantage they experience such as social isolation and poor housing. Despite their numbers, the particular needs of the Irish people are not taken into account when planning and developing mental health services.

African Caribbean people

For African Caribbean people in UK, they have been found to have lower rates for minor psychiatric illnesses than any other ethnic groups. But they are more likely to be diagnosed with severe mental health problems because they are 3 to 5 times highly likely to be admitted for schizophrenia. But according to recent studies, this ethnic group actually has lower rates of schizophrenia than what was originally thought. These people are more likely to be placed under the Mental Health Act. They also receive medication than undergo therapies like talk therapy and psychotherapy. This ethnic minority group tend to be over-represented in a number of secure institutions, special Hospitals, prisons, and medium secure units. The UK community may have failed to engage the African Caribbean people to have diagnosis for their mental health problems. This has been related to criminal justice service because of failed contact to mental health services.

Asian people

Asian people in UK who were diagnosed with mental health problems appear to be inconsistent but it has also been suggested that their problems may be misdiagnosed or unrecognised.

A study suggests that Asian people are 1.5 times at risk to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than compared to other ethnic groups. But this study may be dependent on age groups as well. There is no clear evidence to point this out but other studies have found that there is little difference with the rates for schizophrenia. Asian people, on the other hand, have higher rates of recovering from schizophrenia which is related to a much better level of familial support.
Suicidal rates are very low among Asian men, especially in their elderly. But in some studies, young Asian women had higher rates of suicide compared to other ethnic groups. Meanwhile, Indian men were found to have a wide range of problems in alcohol abuse.

The mental health services available in the UK were found to be unsuitable for the needs and cultural identity of the Asian communities. The Asian communities see an individual in a holistic approach: as a emotional, physical, spiritual and mental being.

Chinese people

There is little evidence to show the extent of mental health problems existing in the Chinese community.

A study has suggested that there is a low rate of mental health problems in the Chinese when compared to other ethnic groups. This is attributed to the close-knit structure of the family in their society which provides the family members a strong support system. This can be beneficial but it can also generate shame and guilt if the person is stigmatized and is unable to seek medical help.