Black and minority ethnic people experience worse outcomes when accessing mental health support, according to a new report from the NHS Race and Health Observatory. It found that they were more likely to experience longer waiting times and lower recovery rates than their white counterparts. Chief executive of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, Dr Habib Naqvi, said, ‘we recognise there are still critical gaps in access and outcomes when it comes to mental health support and talking therapies, across different ethnic groups. It’s vital that we take a serious look at the findings of this review.’
Data from The Ethnic Inequalities in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) review revealed notable disparities between white British people and minoritised ethnic groups accessing mental health services. This included longer waiting times for both assessments and treatment, less likelihood to receive treatment after the assessment stage and lower mental health recovery rates.
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According to the review, which looked at 10 years of anonymous patient data from NHS Talking Therapies, the poorest outcomes were experienced by people from a south Asian background. Only 35.1% of people from a Pakistani background were in recovery compared to 51% of white British people in the period of 2021-22. Head of Equity and Racial Justice at Rethink Mental Illness, Nisa Chisipochinyi said: ‘These statistics paint a concerning picture of the unacceptable inequalities many Black, Asian and minority ethnic people experience when trying to access talking therapies and the likelihood they will face poorer outcomes.’
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in people searching for support with their mental health. A 2022 report from NHS Digital showed a 21.5% increase in people accessing the NHS Talking Therapies services between 2020-21 and 2021-22. In response to the IAPT report, an NHS spokesperson said that talking therapy services treated an additional 15,000 people from ethnic minority backgrounds in 2022 compared to the year before. The NHS aims to support 1.9 million people access treatment in 2024. ‘The NHS is committed to ensuring that these services are as accessible as possible for patients.’
However, Ms Chisipochinyi believes that the report shows ‘more needs to be done to make treatment more inclusive and equitable for all’. She said: ‘Everyone needs to have confidence that a referral for mental health treatment can be a key turning point in their recovery.’