The question is: why are ethnic minorities stigmatised when it comes to mental health?
People with mental illnesses are discouraged from seeking talking therapy due to the stigma associated with them. Because they are more likely to confront additional socioeconomic obstacles, such as poverty and institutionalised discrimination, ethnic minorities suffer the impacts of stigma more strongly than the white population.
Research shows that ethnic minorities often lack access to mental health care and are more likely to be misdiagnosed or have their symptoms misunderstood because of their culture. Ethnic minorities are more stigmatised than the mainstream population regarding mental illness.
Clinically, effective mental health outreach needs to focus on anti-stigma and anti-racism activities for people of all races and cultures with mental illnesses. To fight this stigma and make sure that ethnic minorities get the proper mental health care, it is crucial to have community members help plan mental health initiatives.
A 2019 report on the same topic from the Mental Health Foundation says that the Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) communities “often face individual and social problems that could affect access to healthcare and mental and physical health.” The report talked about several important issues that affect the mental health of ethnic minorities.
- Discrimination and racism
- Economic and social differences
- Mental illness is stigmatised.
- The criminal justice system’s involvement
Several other studies have shown that the presence of ethnic minorities is linked to a drop in mental health services, making it harder for people who need help to get it.
In the face of this stigma, how can we move forward?
There isn’t just one way to address this problem, but I’ve come up with a few solutions, the most important of which is developing empathy.
- Please encourage others to open up about their challenges, listen carefully, and treat them compassionately.
- A simple but meaningful act of kindness that can have a real impact points them toward mental health organisations that may provide expert aid and treatment.
- It is vital for people from our different ethnic groups to talk about mental health to eliminate the social stigma surrounding it.
- Those who may not usually stand up for themselves should be encouraged to do so.
- It is crucial that discussions about mental health not be taboo so that no one feels like a “pariah.”
- Assist in eradicating the false belief that people from historically marginalised ethnic groups (BAME) do not exist or are too weak to deal with mental health issues. The sooner we start having these conversations, the better.
Culturally conscious therapists understand that they must avoid making broad assumptions about their patients’ backgrounds and cultures and must refrain from criticising such backgrounds and beliefs. The patient and the therapist can benefit from the therapist’s cultural consciousness and sensitivity.
As culturally aware therapists, we must respect and accept different cultures to help our patients the best way we can. Through increased awareness and understanding, we can work to eliminate the stigma around mental health for BAME people.
You can learn more about Bempong Talking Therapy at www.bempongtalkingtherapy.com.