Achieving race equality in mental health: a new briefing from the NHS Confederation


The NHS Confederation have published a new briefing that summarises the findings and recommendations from a recent report, commissioned by the Department of Health, into race equality in mental health. The report is based on a series of interviews with NHS and local authority leaders.

The report suggests that focusing on tackling inequalities in access and experience will ensure that more people have good mental health and more people recover. Some black and minority ethnic groups, particularly people from black African and black Caribbean backgrounds, have historically experienced poorer outcomes than the rest of the population. Some groups continue to have higher rates of admission to inpatient units and greater rates of detention than the rest of the population.

Key points from the briefing include:

  • There have been numerous initiatives and programmes aimed at addressing race equality, but little concrete evidence of improved outcomes
  • Interviewees cited a critical need to develop capacity and capability in commissioning
  • The need for further national support, particularly for spreading good practice and networking, was also a common theme from the interviews
  • The report sets out recommendations for national bodies, including the NHS Commissioning Board, plus local commissioners and providers of NHS mental health services

The briefing goes on to pose a set of questions that mental health boards should consider:

  • How do we currently approach race equality in our organisation, in terms of our workforce and the people who use our services?
  • How does race equality feature in current staff training programmes? How do we include race equality in development for board members?
  • What information do we currently collect that relates to access, experience and outcomes from care for our service users, and how are we able to break this information down to examine variations by ethnicity?
  • As a board, how do we monitor information relating to race equality? Do we receive an annual report? How does information relating to race equality help inform the development of organisational strategy and planning?


Race equality in mental health (PDF). NHS Confederation Mental Health Network, May 2012.

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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