City Research Online

Mental Health and Wellbeing Briefing Paper

Raghavan, R. & Jones Nielsen, J. D. ORCID: 0000-0001-6874-1268 (2021). Mental Health and Wellbeing Briefing Paper. London, UK: Race Equality Foundation.


Good mental health is recognised as an integral part of a personʼs wellbeing, embedded in all aspects of their whole life, their beliefs, faith, culture, environment, spirituality, work, housing, education, family and community respect. Mental ill-health is the largest single source of burden of disease in the UK. Almost 23% of the total burden of disease in the UK is attributable to mental disorders, compared to 16.2% for cardiovascular disease and 15.9% for cancer. 1 in 4 families worldwide is likely to have at least one member experiencing mental ill health or behavioural difficulties. People in marginalised groups are at greater risk of mental health problems, including people from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, disabled people and people who have had contact with the criminal justice system, among others.

Evidence shows that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic Black and ethnic minority communities were disproportionately at higher risk of exacerbating mental health inequalities, and were unequally impacted by social determinants associated with mental ill health. Barriers to accessing mental health support and the role of cultural beliefs and attitudes have been cited as explanations for existing mental health inequalities that face Black and ethnic minority communities living in the UK. Black and ethnic minority communities, especially Black and South Asian groups experience more adverse pathways to care, higher rates of compulsory admission and treatment, more contact with the police and criminal justice agencies and poorer longer-term outcomes compared with White British people.

Although this was known prior to the pandemic, these disparities have been amplified and exacerbated, significantly affecting Black and ethnic minority populations who already had low access to mental health care. Yet large proportions of this population are unable to access treatment for mental health care. The Centre for Mental Healthʼs report5 on understanding inequalities in mental health during the pandemic is a call to action for policymakers and health professional to improve mental health equality amongst Black and ethnic minority communities, by providing emergency funding for mental health organisations that have adapted their services to be culturally responsive. We have to also focus on the structural conditions that overwhelmingly and disproportionately affect Black and ethnic minority communities such as precarious housing, employment, and political and environmental stressors.

Publication Type: Report
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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