Racial equality in mental health stuck at a standstill
Posted Thursday 21 January 2010
Figures released today by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) show that five years on from the first Count me in census  people from black and minority ethnic communities remain 3 times more likely than average to be detained under the Mental Health Act and there is still no evidence of a decline in admissions.
The survey also shows the use of mixed sex wards remains unacceptably high, with 67 per cent of patients still on mixed sex wards, a figure which rises to 76 per cent for women.
Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:
"It is unacceptable that five years after this census was introduced black and minority ethnic groups continue to be grossly over-represented on inpatient wards and there has been no real progress towards reducing the number of people on mixed sex wards. In some areas of the country good work is being done to address these issues but the big picture shows a fundamental failure to deal with problems.
It is simply inexcusable that in 21st century healthcare a quarter of women on psychiatric wards don’t have access to single sex bathroom facilities, or that men from black and minority ethnic groups are three times more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. We hear promises, and hints of commitments, but then year on year nothing changes. There can be no excuse for this lack of progress.
The Government’s New Horizons strategy shows us the way to a future of improved mental health outcomes by focusing on prevention and improving whole population mental wellbeing. However these goals appear out of reach when problems with basic mental health care persist. It is important that the CQC continues its vital work monitoring standards of health and social care, and we would urge them to recognise these indicators of failure and consider them when reviewing applications for registration as part of the new system being introduced in April of this year".
The Count me in census 2009 is the Healthcare Commission’s fifth census of mental health inpatients in England and Wales. It feeds into the government programme Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care.