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Mental Health Act Fails Minorities

concerned manNew draft bill even more worrying.

They say the larger your family, the more likely that someone in it will suffer from mental health problems. The alarming number of people from black and mixed-race families alleged to be suffering from mental illness has been of grave concern to many of us for a long time. Now the first national census of the mental health system has revealed that black people are more likely to be detained compulsorily under the Mental Health Act than other groups.

This census will most definitely include mixed-race individuals because it's common knowledge mixed-race individuals are often listed as black when obtaining medical services. The census, which was carried out on March 31 covered 34,000 patients in 102 NHS trusts found that black people were three times more likely to be admitted to mental hospitals and twice as likely to be referred by police.

The census stopped short of accusing the NHS of racism, but says the findings need an "urgent explanation" as to why black patients are 44 per cent more likely to be compulsorily detained. A total of 50 per cent are more likely to be held in seclusion.

The census is released just as the government's Draft Mental Health Bill received criticism from a 14-strong group of mental health and legal experts, led by Rabinder Singh QC set up by the Department of Health (DH), to advise DH and Home Office ministers on the possible areas where black and ethnic minority people may be adversely affected by the Mental Health Bill.

According to the advisory group popular stereotypes and lack of understanding of cultural difference expose black and ethnic minority people to higher levels of suspicion and scrutiny and this may lead to more assessment ordered by non-clinicians.

The group called for requests for initial examinations to be restricted to people who can prove they know the person, such as social workers, teachers and close family members. They also called for the Department of Health to conduct a comprehensive race equality impact assessment, in line with guidance issued by the Commission for Racial Equality, and in order for ministers to comply with race relations legislation.

Peter Scott Blackman, advisory group member and chief executive of the London-based Afiya Trust said the Census findings vindicate the group’s recommendations and call for a thorough impact assessment.

The advisory group has submitted its report to the Department of Health which they are considering as part of the race equality impact assessment, which will be published when the Bill is introduced.

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