Mental Health Plan Fails to Help Black People

David Brindle, Guardian (London), April 6, 2011

A five-year race equality action plan has made little impact on the disproportionate number of black people admitted to mental hospitals and subjected to compulsory treatment, an official survey has shown.

Black and mixed-race people remain far more likely than average to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals, to be detained under the Mental Health Act and to be confined in seclusion, according to the survey. The picture has “not altered materially” since 2005.

The findings will dismay campaigners who had hoped that the action plan, Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health, would bring a step-change in the treatment of people from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups in the mental health system, following a high-profile inquiry into the death in hospital of David “Rocky” Bennett, a Rastafarian.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said it was “inexcusable” that so little progress had been made in ensuring uniform mental health care for all, irrespective of racial background.

“It is unacceptable that people from some BME groups are six times as likely to be admitted to hospital,” Farmer said. “Such gross inequalities within the system cannot go on.”

The death of Bennett highlighted the issue of disproportionate and sometimes deficient care of black people in the mental health system. He died in a medium-secure unit in Norwich in 1998 after being held down on the floor for 28 minutes by at least four members of the nursing staff.

The subsequent inquiry made 22 recommendations, including one calling for acknowledgement of “the presence of institutional racism” in mental health services. The then Labour government declined to do so.

Alongside the action plan, launched in response to the Bennett case, the Department of Health ordered an annual census of patients to monitor progress. The new survey is the sixth and last such census, organised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) across 261 mental health care providers in both the NHS and independent sectors across England and Wales, covering almost 33,000 patients.

The exercise, carried out last year, found that people from BME backgrounds comprised 23% of all patients either in hospital or subject to community treatment orders. In 2005, the equivalent proportion had been 20%.

Rates of compulsory detention were between 25 and 38 percentage points higher for BME groups than for white British people, while use of seclusion was anything up to 99 percentage points higher.

The survey found also that use of mixed-sex wards remained widespread in mental hospitals last year. As many as 61% of male patients and 77% of women were not in a ward designated for single-sex use–a picture described by Mind as “alarming”.

Dame Jo Williams, CQC chair, said the findings did not necessarily show that BME patients’ needs were not being met. But they did suggest that the mental health system could not solve the problem of unequal treatment on its own. Other agencies, such as police and education authorities and the voluntary sector, needed to share the challenge.

“There is a need to move on from counting patients to understanding more about the factors that lead to hospital admission, such as ethnic differences in the rates of mental illness, the socio-economic and other disadvantages faced by some black and minority ethnic communities and the ways in which patients enter the care environment–for instance, patients from some ethnic groups are much more likely to be referred from the criminal justice system than are other groups,” Williams said.

Paul Burstow, care services minister, admitted: “Not enough progress has been made to address the over-representation of black and ethnic minorities in our mental health system.

This is a legacy that must act as a spur to redouble our efforts to tackle inequalities in mental health.”

Topics:

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Question Diversity

    Or maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with the fact that blacks are more likely to have mental illness than whites or other racial groups, and the main reason for it is self-infliction due to the use and abuse of illicit substances.

  • Kingoldby

    There is a direct correlation between drug use and mental conditions such as schizophrenia.

    The high rate of mental problems amongst blacks almost exactly mirrors the high rate of drug use among blacks.

    Still, that must all be the fault of the racist white society.

  • Chicagoan

    Sounds like they’re getting six times the care, rather than less. They probably don’t pay their own way but are disproportionally the consumers of all these services. People always find a way to complain no matter what.

  • sbuffalonative

    Black and mixed-race people remain far more likely than average to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals

    A couple years ago, AR reported on a similar finding from Britain that blacks had higher rates of mental illness.

    Anyone who has ever been to a black neighborhood has seen a few ‘crazy black’ folk wondering the streets.

  • Ben

    “’It is unacceptable that people from some BME groups are six times as likely to be admitted to hospital,’”

    Really. So it is more acceptable if whites were also more likely to “even it out?”

    Wound’t it be great that no people where admitted to hospital? I thought that what was being color blind was all about…

    “’Such gross inequalities within the system cannot go on.’”

    “A five-year race equality action plan has made little impact”

    How can there be inequalities within the system when a 5 year action plan was implemented to prevent that very thing?

  • Istvan

    The real problem are whites who attribute normal African behavior to mental health problems. Take oppositional defiant disorder for instance. We expect white children to respect their elders and follow the rules adults set down. We allow some differentiation in behavior due to the sex of the child but basically we expect white children to listen and behave. Why do we expect this? Because our brains are wired that way from birth. White kids, especially boys, are expected to be a little rebellious at different ages (the terrible twos and teen years) but we ultimately expect white kids to do right and settle down. A little rebellion is probably good for creativity.

    Conversely we do not find it at all unusual for Orientals to be such good followers and value the group above all else. Look at the sacrifices the men working at the Fukushima plant are making. They know they will die but soldier on knowing that they are working for the greater good. Chinese and Japanese school children sit quietly in class and listen attentively to the teacher. Perfectly normal from our point of view and from theirs because that is how they are wired.

    Today, except for a few “conservatives” most sensible people realize that Homosexuals are born, not made, or drafted or changeable (I am referring to same-sex attraction and not necessarily homosexual sex). Probably due to the way brain develops in the womb during that period of time when the sex hormones, especially testosterone, are released in the first trimester. Despite centuries of punishment, ostracism and treatment Homosexuals are still with us. Why? Because of the way their brains are wired.

    Blacks are no different than whites, east Asians or gays in that regard. Their brains are wired a certain way. They are not wired for delayed gratification, or great cognitive ability, or creativity or large group cohesion. I could give hundreds of examples of how blacks behave in ways that Eurasians find abhorrent. Yet rather than accept that different groups people are born with differing innate predispositions we beat our heads against the wall trying to figure out why we can not force a round peg into a square hole. Whether it is mental health treatment or Head Start or even leading them around by the nose the fact remains that blacks, as a group, will never be white.

    Occasionally you can train a cat to do tricks like a dog but ultimately cats are cats and not dogs, even though both are furry mammals.

    Now the real question is; who really needs mental health treatment? Them or us, for trying to pretend they are just like us.

  • Bill R

    Or it could be that the liberal UK, reluctant to admit blacks are more inherently violent and criminal just because they are black, are “excusing” black crime as an aberration, as mental illness, and putting black criminals in the more cushy and coddling psychiatric hospitals instead of the prisons they belong in. I’d bet whites are more likely to find themselves in prison after exhibiting the same behavior as blacks. Could be wrong, I suppose, but……

  • Blue Willow

    I’ve read that doctors have been puzzled by an unusually high rate of autism among Somali children living in the US. Various theories have been put forward. In the comments section of one article there was comment from a public health nurse who works with this population. She said, almost apologetically, that when a child is diagnosed with autism that the family gets a higher rate of welfare payments, so the Somalis try hard to have their children diagnosed as autistic. I wonder if something like this could be going on in Britain.

    Another thought–there is is a lot of inbreeding in the Pakistani population in England. More than half of them marry their first cousins. This might cause mental as well as physical problems. Sometimes Pakistanis are refered to as “black” in Britain.

  • Anonymous

    The correlation between race, IQ, educational attainment, health, substance abuse, and mentall illness was explored in “The Bell Curve” quite well. Interestingly the mental illness rate of Blacks in the UK seems to be 6 times the White rate which correlates with the 8x or so crime rate statistics recorded by the Home Office there.

    Interesting is the Orwellian rhetoric: “black and minority ethnic (BME)” whose terminology insists this is purely an ethnic issue all minorites are subjected to. I suspect that given the very high consanguinity (inbreeding) of the Pakistani population there are mentall health issues there as well on top off the established birth defect issues. These mental health issues will certainly rarely be found amongst East Asians or Indians.

  • Mako 19

    My dad, a board certified general surgeon and rather liberal, said that blacks have a lot more health problems than whites. They have high blood pressure, vascular diseases,kidney problems diabetes, prostate problems and mental problems more than whites.He said they were cursed health wise.

  • Anonymous

    I bet further investigation would reveal these same ‘blacks’ are 12 times time more likely to receive government payout. Being ‘mentally ill’, ‘slow learner’ and even ‘homeless’ are paths toward a helping hand. I find this all hard to believe, cause black folks make Others around them crazy. They take pleasure in this. Perhaps Britains should be greatful they are forced to interact with so few of them.

  • Anonymous

    It’s one system for whites and white men (conservatism, self-reliance, shaming) it’s another system for women and victims of color. White men are turned away from government welfare offices routinely, by the same people like those quoted in these articles stating they are doing all they can to ‘end discrimination and inequality’. This article will simply lead to more of it. I think if whites were more self aware, this article would be proof of it. The diversitiods say the dangdest most brazen things right in our faces and have not a fear or thought in the world about it.

  • Anonymous

    Not enough progress has been made to address the over-representation of black and ethnic minorities in our mental health system.

    Here we have blacks receiving mental health treatment at a rate of 6 times that of whites (paid for mostly by whites, I imagine), and this is somehow discriminatory against the blacks? As commentators here always say, you can’t win with these people.

    My suggestion: instead of hospitalization, leave them “out on the streets” and out on their own within the general population. That way, the next survey would look better, and UK whites would be more able to enjoy all the pleasures of multicultural diversity in a more authentic, up-close and personal way.

  • Anonymous

    “Black and mixed-race people remain far more likely than average to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals, to be detained under the Mental Health Act and to be confined in seclusion, according to the survey. The picture has “not altered materially” since 2005.”

    Mixed race people? I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again – mixing genes together that were not meant to be mixed results in all sorts of health problems, and not just mental health alone.

    I’ve lost count of the number of stories I’ve read on medical-news related websites that identify the serious and hazardous problems that arise when doctors are trying to find suitable donors for blood-transfusions, organ transplants, and other medical procedures that carry the risk of rejection and incompatibilities that DO MEDICALLY EXIST, folks, between the races.

    Tip: Do not race mix. Keep your family white and do NOT apologize for it to anyone.

  • Anonymous

    One issue that may have relevance here is the extent to which

    psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses tending to hospitalized mental patients observe over time indications of biologically based racial differences in incidences of disorders, etc, and particularly racial differences in the amounts of medication required on average to mitigate common disorders. Facts about these topics do tend to creep through into print here and there, but are not drawn together for coherent written commentary or hypotheses and surely never into research proposals.

  • Anonymous

    Wasn’t there an article in Amren a few months ago that said blacks have less mental illness than whites?

  • Jay

    I don’t see how ‘institutional racism’ in mental health services has contributed to more crazy non-whites. It is the non-whites who are going to the funny farm – no one is forcing them to go. If there was white racism there (aren’t all those medical professionals liberals?) then the non-whites would be denied and turned away in great numbers, not let in in huge numbers.

    Seems to me that there’s more to this than meets the eye. How about three hots and a cot in a cushy ‘mental’ hospital?

  • Anonymous

    18 — Jay wrote at 4:49 PM on April 7:

    Seems to me that there’s more to this than meets the eye. How about three hots and a cot in a cushy ‘mental’ hospital?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    In California, because of the poor economy and the lack of money in the State’s coffer, single (mostly) male minorities who use to get welfare money, are now claiming to be mentally ill so they can continue to get money from the state. They go to a special lawyer who sends them to a special doctor who fakes the paperwork so the “patient” can get free money. I think at least 1/3 of California is receiving some kind of financial assistance from the government, and I don’t mean normal retirement Soc-Sec and Medicare.

  • Anonymous

    As for paragraph three of post #6, there is room for debate about this contention. It would seem that much homosexuality is hard wired and not a conventional moral choice. But along the

    CONTINUUM of the composite of innate and conditioned sexual responsivness, a good bit of sexuality has a bisexual coloring and accordingly is chosen; stated differently, a good many people tilted toward normal sexuality, choose perversities that by powerful conditioning quickly become captivating. It is not likely the strong & nearly universal moral condemnation of homosexuality arose merely from something “in the water” or something “dropping upon us from the sky” and is accordingly something terribly out of accord with evolutionary selection pressures.

  • Iron Helm

    17 — Anonymous wrote at 11:50 AM on April 7:

    “Wasn’t there an article in Amren a few months ago that said blacks have less mental illness than whites?”

    Don’t remember that, but it is true that blacks have less problems with self-esteem and depression but more instances of psychosis.