for better mental health

Our work on race, ethnicity and mental health

Anyone experiencing a mental health problem should get both support and respect. However, we know that for many people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities this is still not the case.

The reasons for this are complex but include systemic racism and discrimination as well as social and economic inequalities and mental health stigma. People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities living in the UK are more likely to: 

  • be diagnosed with mental health problems 
  • be diagnosed and admitted to hospital 
  • experience a poor outcome from treatment 

The disproportionate impact of coronavirus on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities has further highlighted the inequalities in the system and has made many people’s mental health worse at an already difficult time.

Do you need help right now? 

Check out our information and support pages, ring our Infoline or locate your Local Mind. You can also take a look at our list of organisations specifically supporting BAME people with their mental health. 

"…the psychiatrist who might be racially inclined to think, oh because they studied this in mental health and this is what Black people are supposed to be like…and the next minute you’re schizophrenic."

BAME as a term

We know the acronym BAME (Black Asian and Minority Ethnic) is controversial. It can be problematic in terms of putting different groups into a single category, which obscures identities and the particular challenges experienced by those groups referred to in the BAME acronym.

However, it can be useful as shorthand to refer to groups who don’t experience White privilege (though this is complicated by the fact that the term 'Minority Ethnic' does include some groups who are generally perceived to be White).

The term can also be useful when working with other organisations that also use it on shared goals to do with these groups. However, we acknowledge that the problems with the term mean it’s ultimately unsatisfactory and we’re currently reviewing the use of BAME within Mind.

Racism and discrimination

People from BAME communities have told us about their experiences of racism when using mental health services, including when staying in hospital, and a lack of cultural sensitivity. We know that people from some BAME communities are tending to stay on mental health wards for longer and be less included in ward life. They are also more likely to be physically restrained or isolated.

The experiences and fear of racism and discrimination itself can also have a direct negative effect on someone’s mental health and are a factor in people developing common and serious mental illnesses. Racism, whether obvious or in the form of micro-aggressions, can erode your confidence, can undermine your resilience and wear down your hope and motivation.

Evidence also suggests that people who experience racism in any form are more likely to encounter difficulties with anger, depression, substance misuse and even psychosis. Find out more about the inequalities facing BAME communities when it comes to mental health services in our briefing.

Read our briefing

"The ‘big, bad black man syndrome’… you’re more likely to be heavily medicated or physically restrained. You expect it."

What we are doing

Initiatives that we are running at the moment to specifically address the mental health of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people include our programme working with young Black men to build services around their lived experience. We’re also campaigning to end the racial disparity in the use of the Mental Health Act and the introduction of Seni’s law to reduce the use of force specifically in mental health hospitals. 

Through our Five Tests campaign and our Stand for me campaign in Wales, we’ve been asking UK and Welsh Government to meet our five tests after coronavirus, which includes protecting and prioritising those most at risk including those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities who are particularly impacted by the pandemic. Many of our local Minds continue to provide services tailored to meet the needs of the different BAME communities they serve.  

But, this isn’t enough. The Black Lives Matter movement and disproportionate impact of coronavirus on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities have made us examine how we address systemic racism within our own organisation.

We recognise that our own structures and practices must be improved and we must be proactive in challenging ourselves to recognise and address racial bias, in order to move towards racial equality. In our 2021-24 strategy, we are committing to becoming an anti-racist organisation and we are currently launching an organisation-wide review to identify what we need do to achieve this. 

Got a question?

If you have a question that is not answered here or would like to find out more about something, get in touch with our Equality Improvement team at [email protected]

Find out more about our equality and human right work.

Contact us

Inequalities in mental health services

Read our briefing which explores the differences for people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in accessing mental health services, their experiences of these services and the outcomes they receive.

Read our briefing

Our five tests for UK Government

Due to coronavirus, we're experiencing a mental health emergency. Prioritising mental health has never been more critical. That's why we're asking the UK Government to meet our five tests. 

Find out about our five tests

Young Black Men's programme

Our three year programme works with 11 to 30 year-olds by offering a range of tailored local services working specifically with young Black men.

Find out about our programme

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