Discrimination faced by black children in mental health services

2 mins read

Tuesday 22 February 2022

Tags: health, nhs, camhs, discrimination, race equality, bame

Black children are 10 times more likely to be referred to CAMHS via social services and youth justice teams rather than through the GP compared with White British children, according to a major new NHS report. 

The “stark” discrimination and inequalities Black and minority ethnic adults face in mental health service are reproduced in children’s services, the review of race inequalities in healthcare concluded.

The Rapid Race Review called for critical action from NHS England and NHS Digital to address the discrimination. 

Evidence reviewed by the team showed Black people and other minority ethnic groups face harsher treatment, including being more likely restrained in a prone position or put in seclusion when detained on psychiatric wards. 

People from Black and other ethnic groups were also less likely to seek help from mental health services for fear of discriminatory treatment. And their GP is less likely to refer them for psychological therapies. 

Discrimination is mirrored in children’s mental health services. 

Two large studies of CAMHS referrals by Edbrooke-Childs (study one  and study two) the team reviewed shows young people from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to be referred through voluntary routes like the GP.

The review, commissioned by the NHS Race and Health Observatory, also highlighted discrimination in neonatal and maternal healthcare as well as digital health, genetic testing, genomic sequencing and in the NHS workforce. 

In maternal healthcare, the team found “negative interactions, stereotyping, disrespect, discrimination and cultural insensitivity leaving some ethnic minority women feeling ‘othered’, unwelcome, and poorly cared-for.”  Researchers reviewed 178 studies published in the last decade to assess the evidence of ethnic health inequalities and set out recommendations for closing the gap.