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Tuesday, 24 October, 2000, 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
Minority mental services 'must improve'
Schizophrenia play
Ethnic minority patients feel the NHS ignores their needs
The government has pledged to improve mental health services for black and ethnic minority patients.

This follows a survey suggesting that 87% believe that services are "institutionally racist".

Ethnic minority groups have higher admission rates to psychiatric hospitals and are diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia more often than a white person.

But Health Minister John Hutton said he is committed to improving services for ethnic minorities.


We must make sure that services are able to take full account of that person's cultural background

Health Minister John Hutton

"The development and delivery of culturally appropriate services is not an option.

"It is not something we can choose to do. It is a must do."

Mr Hutton said the government's mental health task force, set up to implement the national plan for the NHS, would be asked to look at issues surrounding the care of ethnic minority patients.

The taskforce is due to meet for the first time on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Forum on Black and Minority Ethnic Mental Health, Mr Hutton said: "One of our priorities is to make sure that the services on offer meet the actual needs of the people who use them - this is especially relevant to black and ethnic minority communities.

"And, in order for services to truly meet the needs of a person, we must make sure that services are able to take full account of that person's cultural background."

Professor Louis Appleby, National Director of Mental Health added: "We have to make our services work well for everyone regardless of their ethnic group.

"There is no more important issue in mental health care. The new Mental Health Taskforce will ensure that all service developments take account of the different needs of ethnic minorities."

Cultural issues

A spokeswoman from the mental health charity Mind said: "There have been problems around the diagnosis of schizophrenia with young black men much more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than white men.

"But there have also been problems when black males or females find themselves in hospital.

"They often find that white middle class psychiatrists do not address their cultural needs.

"We carried out a survey which highlighted many of the problems."

The survey found that 87% of ethnic minority patients felt that mental health services were institutionally racist.

Four out of five said staff lacked training on how to deal with them and were unaware of their needs.

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12 Oct 00 | Health
Asian women in suicide risk
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