In 1993 we published a policy on Black and Minority Ethnic mental health which highlighted major concerns about the impact of racism on people's lives, on their mental health and on the services they receive. The policy showed that:
- the diverse needs of people from different cultural, religious and ethnic communities are often not met in mental health services.
- black people are more likely than white people to be detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act by the police, compulsorily detained in hospital, diagnosed with schizophrenia and given high doses of medication.
- primary care and community care services are often under-used by people from black and minority ethnic communities.
The policy also highlighted the way people's experiences of mental health services may differ according to their ethnicity, gender and social class. Depression and suicide rates are high among Asian women, for example, yet services are often not appropriate to their needs - they may be placed in mixed sex psychiatric wards, contrary to their religious and cultural beliefs.
Mind's policy on black and minority ethnic mental health called for action, including better information, translation and interpreting services, training for mental health staff, less coercion into the psychiatric and criminal justice systems, and support for black and minority ethnic organisations. This led to the formation of Diverse Minds in 1997.
That said, as revealed by the latest national Count Me In Census (Healthcare Commission, 2008), Black Caribbean, people form black and minority ethnic communities, and African-Caribbean people in particular, are substantially more likely to be detained under the mental health act. Despite the 'community engagement' focus of DRE, over-representation of black and minority ethnic people at the secure end of the mental health system, and under-representation at the primary care end remains the norm. Clearly, there is still work to be done.
Diverse Minds: 1997 - 2012
The central aim was two-fold.
On the one hand, Diverse Minds has been a catalyst for change within Mind. By serving as an internal consultancy and knowledge resource, Diverse Minds influenced the work of the whole of Mind, ensuring that it is considerate of and responsive to the needs of diverse ethnic groups.
On the other, Diverse Minds worked with a network of like-minded organisations and individuals to push for changes in mental health policy and practice that remedy current inequalities experienced by black and minority ethnic communities.
Diverse Minds also worked with refugee organisations and health providers across England and Wales to improve access to mental health support for refugees and asylum seeker communities.
Significant improvement in the experiences of black and minority ethnic people's contact with mental health services has been made over the 13 years of Diverse Minds' existence. Examples include a general acceptance and understanding of the social drivers of disproportionately negative experiences of services across various ethnic groups.
Goal E: Removing inequality of opportunity: 2012 - present
Based on recognition of the increasing need of marginalised groups, combined with an internal push that has driven the organisation to investing more resource to deliver increased impact around Equality & Diversity, in 2012 Diverse Minds was reconfigured into the Equality Improvement Team (EIT).
EIT has a broader remit and increased strategic prioritisation than Diverse Minds.
To know more about the work of the Equality Improvement Team, please visit out Equality Improvement section