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Mental Health Services: Ethnic Groups

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the findings of the Healthcare Commission's report on the 2006 national census of inpatients in mental health and learning disability services, Count Me In, with respect to the diagnosis, medication and accommodation of patients from ethnic minorities. (242374)

The Healthcare Commission published its report on the 2008 Count Me In census on 27 November. Count Me In does not collect information about patients' diagnosis or medication.

We welcomed the report and concur with its principal conclusions. Mental health services still need to do more to meet the needs of diverse communities and tackle inequalities in mental health. Our Delivering Race Equality action plan, supported by over 400 new community development workers across the country, has already helped to deliver progress and remains the blueprint for services to follow.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to improve mental health provision in the Asian community; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of those steps. (242377)

In 2005 the Department launched 'Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care' (DRE). DRE is a five year action plan designed to improve black and minority ethnic (BME) communities' experience of mental health services, including that of Asian communities.

There has been significant progress. The DRE programme has helped to develop replicable good practice around tailored pathways of care for BME service users—for example, the collaboration between the Sheffield mental health crisis resolution and home treatment service and the local Pakistani Muslim Centre. New training in race equality for mental health staff has been tested successfully and made available nationally. The pilot project in Newham, East London, of the programme improving access to psychological therapies has demonstrated that Asian and other BME communities can have equal access to, and equal outcomes from, the new services. Primary care trusts have so far recruited over 400 new community development workers, whose role is to build links between local BME communities and mental health services and to help communities play a part in planning and providing those services.

We do, though, believe that the national health service still must do more to meet the needs of increasingly diverse local populations, particularly by delivering early and equitable access to effective community-based interventions. These issues will stay a priority for services for the duration of the DRE programme and beyond.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether his Department has commissioned research into mental health problems amongst Asian women in England; (242378)

(2) what steps his Department is taking to address the stigma attached to mental health problems in the Asian community.

The Department's National Institute for Health Research is not currently funding research of this kind. The 2002 survey of Ethnic Minority Psychiatric Illness Rates in the Community (EMPIRIC) provided estimates of the prevalence of common mental disorders and psychosis, information on social support and information on access to services. Estimates are provided for Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library and is on the Department's website at:

The Department's Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care programme (DRE) is helping to raise awareness among black and minority ethnic communities of mental health issues and to develop services more sensitive to communities' particular needs. It is also collaborating with Shift, the Department's five-year campaign addressing stigma and mental health.

In November 2008 Shift launched the award-winning short film ‘Open Secrets’, about the stigma surrounding mental illness in the Asian community. The film has been dubbed into Gujarati and Hindi. ‘Open Secrets’ is intended to be used by DRE's network of community development workers and as a tool to influence Asian media, health and social care organisations and policymakers. Shift and DRE will promote the film at regional and local screenings in community and health and social care contexts to raise awareness and promote discussion. The film will be available on the internet from 1 April 2009.

Shift has also commissioned the consultancy Ethnic Communications to carry out a qualitative research project looking at how mental health stories are portrayed in the South Asian media. This work will be published at the DRE national conference in March 2009.