As the most likely to be admitted to hospital for mental illness, people from African and Caribbean communities face various battles. Daily micro-aggressions, and the stress caused by suffering from unemployment, housing problems, and financial difficulties, can make many from the community severely ill.
Though not shocking, it was hard to swallow the fact that African and Caribbean men are one of, if not, the most overrepresented ethnic minority group in inpatient mental health services in the UK.
Time and time again, research has shown that black men are the most likely to face negative experiences when using mental health services.
Once in crisis care, many people find the care provided does not work for them. This could be for a range of reason, such as lack of understanding of their struggle. The unfortunate outcome of this is that we see man black men exhibit poorer mental health. The mental health services have failed them. We have failed them.
To add to this, research shows that Black and Black British people are more likely to be subject to the Mental Health Act than people in the White ethnic group, as shown below.
The image above depicts that people in the Black and Black British ethnic group in inpatient services are more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than people in the White ethnic group and people in Other Ethnic Groups.
In the 2016 survey of mental health and wellbeing, carried out on behalf of NHS Digital, White British adults were the ethnic group most likely to report receiving treatment. With minimal differences in the severity of symptoms between the ethnic groups, Black adults had the lowest treatment rate at 6%, compared to that of White British adults at 13%.
Unlike their counterparts, a study found that BME people were not being offered “talking” therapies. Rather, medication was – and continues to be – the most common treatment. The side-effects, often becoming more and more severe over time, render the use of pills futile.
So many are left with few choices: be sectioned, take medication, or go untreated.
With so many cases of bad experiences in a crisis system, leaving many feeling disempowered, more work needs to be done to engage African and Caribbean men and women. By breaking the stigma, altering perceptions, and helping them take better care of their mental health, we can end this cycle.
Throughout Black History Month, we will be uploading blog posts analysing the experience of black men and black women every Sunday until the end of October. We hope this may shed light on the struggle faced by so many in the community, and may help many more to open up.
Liked this? Take a look at these: