Psychiatry, race and culture: a challenge for the mental health professions

Document type
Discussion paper
Corporate author(s)
MIND (Mental health association)
Date of publication
1 October 2009
MindThink report; 4
Mental health services, Minority Groups
Social welfare
Material type

Download (316KB )

This paper presents the themes emerging from a seminar which explored the relationship between the psychiatric profession and ethnic differences in the experience of mental health services. The seminar brought together stakeholders ranging from service users, psychiatrists, voluntary sector representatives, academics and campaigners, all with expertise in race and mental health. There is a sizable body of evidence detailing the over-representation and disproportionately negative experiences of black and minority ethnic people within secure mental health settings. Understanding and responding to the causes of this have over many years generated heated debate among service users, academics, community representatives and others. The issue has therefore become highly politicised and contentious. Although there is general acceptance that the drivers of ethnic disparity are multifaceted, debates tend to focus on the relative influence of a range of factors (poverty, cultural taboos, the bias of some mental health professionals) which both directly and indirectly impact on mental health practice. The purpose of this seminar was to explore the role of psychiatry in perpetuating this disparity.

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