BAME and the Mental health sector

Last year I went to an Afropunk event where they discussed why ethnic minorities are largely underrepresented within the mental health field. Sadly, it’s widely acknowledged that people from ethnic minority communities are less likely to engage with mental health services which can lead to social isolation and mental health deteriorating. Stigma, feelings of guilt and fear of being misunderstood are common and there is an underrepresentation in those that are giving the treatment.

I’m going to apologise in advance…there’s going to be a lot of numbers coming your way but the stats on the access, diagnosis and treatment with BAME communities are mind-blowing and reminds me why I wanted to get into this field:

  • An independent review of the Mental Health Act in December 2018 found that there were “profound inequalities” for people from ethnic minority communities accessing mental health treatment, their experience of care and their mental health outcomes. According to statistics from NHS Digital used by the review, in 2017-18 black or black British people were over four times more likely to be detained under the act than white people. The report also found that BAME patients were more likely to be restrained on wards.
  • 72% of male and 70% of female sentenced prisoners suffer from two or more mental health disorders, bearing in mind that of all those sentenced to custody in 2006, one in five were from a BAME group.
  • People from BAME communities are largely underrepresented in research. Mainstream approaches to counselling and psychotherapy are based on a western, euro-centric view which may not be able to relate to those from different cultures. There’s underrepresentation at board level – Two fifth’s of London’s NHS trust boards have no BAME members.

Despite these stark statistics, there are some things that could be done to improve services to be more culturally-appropriate:

  • Mother-tongue counselling – This is already being rolled out in some areas of the UK. In NHS West London, they offer talking therapies in arabic, farsi. Birmingham Health Minds IAPT service offer eight, three hourly, weekly sessions to deliver a group based intervention for South Asian women and is facilitated by 2 Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners who speak Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi or Bengali. Sessions are held in community centres in order to reduce the stigma and peoples’ reluctance to engage with mental health services (Sue & Sue, 2003).
  • Community support treatment – This can be done by asking the local population to review their experience and share ideas for improvement which could be fed back to the NHS boards or have culturally appropriate advocates who have an understanding of BAME cultures and communities to help improve engagement.
  • Peer-support groups – Having spaces where people with lived experience of mental health issues can help and support each other. This can help people open up and connect with others to make them feel like they are not alone in what they are going through.


Further reading:


  1. Alice
    June 16, 2020 / 5:13 pm

    Hello Danielle
    Do you offer BAME mental health awareness for secondary school students?

    • bameinmind
      June 20, 2020 / 6:29 pm

      Hi, I’m afraid I don’t currently offer BAME mental health awareness students but it’s definitely something I’d like to explore in the near future. Inside out ( run psycho-educational workshops which might be suitable. I hope that helps 🙂

  2. Eliana
    December 18, 2020 / 4:02 pm

    Hi Danielle

    Hope you’re doing well.

    What’s the best way to get in touch to discuss in more detail; your motivations and thoughts about the future of mental mental health especially among BAME communities?


    • bameinmind
      December 30, 2020 / 3:35 pm

      Hi Eliana,

      Nice to hear from you 🙂
      You can send me an email on to get in touch with more details.

  3. December 15, 2021 / 8:55 am

    Hey Danielle,

    Just come across your website from my current course on suicide and self harm – due to personal circumstances and the removal of my child, i recently improved my skills set by adding counselling to the list. I think you are doing a wonderful job highlighting some very up to date and key issues.

    If its Ok I will pass on your details or website to friends and colleagues whom may need assistance – please keep in touch and best wishes.

    Lisa Freeman
    The Lili and Grace Group
    Gracies Counselling and Advocacy Service

    • bameinmind
      December 24, 2021 / 7:55 pm

      Hi Lisa, thank you so much for your comment. I’m pleased you resonated with the posts. Overcoming some of your personal circumstances must’ve taken great strength and I wish you the best on your journey. Feel free to share and you’re welcome to drop me a message 😊

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