YOUR MENTAL WELLBEING
As we know from time to time we can feel overwhelmed, under valued, undermined and this in turn may affect our self worth. Often we can feel these things without even realising any of this. As members of the BAME community, talking about mental health and wellbeing can be one of the most challenging things. This may be for a whole host of reasons, the beliefs and cultures that have been instilled into individuals regarding mental wellbeing.
What can affect my mental wellbeing?
We all have times when we have low mental wellbeing – when we feel sad or stressed, or find it difficult to cope. For example, when we suffer some sort of loss; experience loneliness or relationships problems; or are worried about work or money. Sometimes, there is no clear reason why we experience a period of poor mental health.
However, there are some factors that may make someone more vulnerable to experiencing a period of poor mental health.
For example, if you experience:
• childhood abuse, trauma, violence or neglect
• social isolation, loneliness or discrimination
• homelessness or poor housing
• a long-term physical health condition
• social disadvantage, poverty or debt
• caring for a family member or friend
• significant trauma as an adult, such as military combat, being involved in a serious accident or being the victim of a violent crime.
Wellbeing in BAME
Different ethnic groups have different rates and experiences of mental health problems, reflecting their different cultural and socio-economic contexts and access to culturally appropriate treatments.
In general, people from black and minority ethnic groups living in the UK are:
• more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems
• more likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital
• more likely to experience a poor outcome from treatment
• more likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.
These differences may be explained by a number of factors, including poverty and racism. They may also be because mainstream mental health services often fail to understand or provide services that are acceptable and accessible to non-white British communities and meet their particular cultural and other needs.
It is likely that mental health problems go unreported and untreated because people in some ethnic minority groups are reluctant to engage with mainstream health services. It is also likely that mental health problems are over-diagnosed in people whose first language is not English.
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The statistics on the numbers of Asian people in the United Kingdom with mental health problems are inconsistent, although it has been suggested that mental health problems are often unrecognised or not diagnosed in this ethnic group.
Asian people have better rates of recovery from schizophrenia, which may be linked to the level of family support.
Suicide is low among Asian men and older people, but high in young Asian women compared with other ethnic groups. Indian men have a high rate of alcohol related problems.
Research has suggested that Western approaches to mental health treatment are often unsuitable and culturally inappropriate to the needs of Asian communities. Asian people tend to view the individual in a holistic way, as a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being.
African Caribbean people living in the UK have lower rates of common mental disorders than other ethnic groups but are more likely to be diagnosed with severe mental illness. African Caribbean people are three to five times more likely than any other group to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital for schizophrenia.
However, most of the research in this area has been based on service use statistics. Some research suggests that the actual numbers of African Caribbean people with schizophrenia is much lower than originally thought.
African Caribbean people are also more likely to enter the mental health services via the courts or the police, rather than from primary care, which is the main route to treatment for most people. They are also more likely to be treated under a section of the Mental Health Act, are more likely to receive medication, rather than be offered talking treatments such as psychotherapy, and are over-represented in high and medium secure units and prisons.
This may be because they are reluctant to engage with services, and so are much more ill when they do. It may also be that services use more coercive approaches to treatment.