People from West Yorkshire’s BME communities with mental health concerns feel ignored and struggle to find a voice, according to charity Touchstone.
The mental health charity recently ran two consultation events with BME service users as part of a national independent review of the Mental Health Act.  Feedback from participants at the events in Leeds and Bradford suggested that some BME people also feel that racism is a key factor in determining how they are treated.
Arfan Hanif, Touchstone’s operations director, commented: “The feedback reinforces our own research and independent reports on why BME people are over represented in mental health hospitals.
“We believe that there must be a greater focus on primary and community based care to address some of the disproportionate outcomes.  By focussing on prevention through primary health care, not only do we better meet the needs of BME people in a dignified and respectful manner, but this also saves a huge of amount money for the tax payer.”
The views of mental health service users from the two consultation events are borne out by two recent pieces of research.  In April a government review by Sir Simon Wessely, former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, found that people from ethnic minorities are four times more likely to be detained under mental health law.
Last autumn Touchstone, in partnership with the Leeds & York Partnership Foundation Trust, published a report showing that people from Black or Black British backgrounds were 240% more likely than White British people to be detained under the Mental Health Act. Researchers reviewed hospital data between April 2013 and March 2016 to analyse the disproportionate number of BME people being sectioned under the act.
Touchstone provides mental health and wellbeing services to over 2,000 people annually – mainly to BME communities and often in partnership with other organisations.  One of its partners, Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service, has launched a BME Men’s Support Group every Thursday from 3-5pm at Touchstone Support Centre, Leeds.  For more information visit