Every commissioner should address ethnic inequalities in mental health says panel of experts

A vulnerable person speaking with a counsellor

Anyone can suffer from mental illness, but current mental health services may not be appropriate for the whole population. People from black and minority ethnic groups may have different requirements, and this guide aims to help commissioners reduce inequalities by procuring good health care for all.

This guidance has been produced by the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health, which “brings together leading organisations and individuals with an interest in commissioning for mental health and learning disabilities.” A list of the organisations involved is available at the end of this post. The guide has been prepared by health professionals, patients and carers, so it provides an insight into what makes a good mental health service for people from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. It has been written for commissioners of mental health services, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health & Wellbeing Boards, GPs, Commissioning Support Units, Local Authorities, and voluntary and independent sector organisations.

Outline of a head in the sky, formed by lightening

This guide aims to help commissioners reduce inequalities by procuring good health care for all.

Mental health services for black and minority ethnic groups

A list of eight reasons has been provided explaining why the provision of good mental health services for people from BME communities is important for commissioners:

  1. Changing demography
  2. Improving the quality of mental health care
  3. Providing effective and appropriate care and enhancing wellbeing
  4. Reducing morbidity and premature deaths
  5. Cost-saving
  6. Legal obligations
  7. Accountability
  8. Ethical and inclusive commissioning
Piece of paper pinned to a cork board with the word Why? typed on it

There are 8 reasons why the provision of good mental health services for people from BME communities is important

Case studies from around England

There is a section describing the current situation, followed by a list of eight priorities for commissioners, and a collection of good practice case examples, collected from a “survey of various BME stakeholder groups”. The 8 examples come from London, West Midlands, and Yorkshire. Together with the case studies, this practical guide has been underpinned by references from more than 80 quality sources, and has been written by leading experts in the specialty of mental health.

There is a collection of case studies from around England

There is a collection of case studies from around England

Commentary

The key messages for commissioners of mental health services for BME communities are summarised at the start of the guidance, not only listing the ten messages, but also briefly explaining the responsibilities of commissioners, which is particularly useful and clearly written. Throughout the guide, there are helpful boxes which provide definitions for the terminology used, such as ethnicity, race, culture, and BME groups. Something else that is really helpful, is that the guide links to the “No health without mental health” paper (link below), and highlights the shared objectives that you should consider so that your work aligns with the national strategy. As commissioners, you could work with your partner organisations and address the eight priorities described using the guidance provided and see how your activities can map to the shared objectives.

Links

Guidance for commissioners of mental health services for people with black and minority ethnic communities (PDF)
Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health
July 2014

Supporting documents from the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health

Members of the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health

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Caroline De Brún

Caroline De Brún

Caroline has been a medical librarian in a variety of NHS and academic roles since 1999, working in academic, primary and secondary care settings, service improvement, knowledge management, and on several high profile national projects. She has a PhD in Computing and currently develops resources to support evidence-based cost and quality, including QIPP @lert, a blog highlighting key reports from health care and other sectors related to service improvement and QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity, Prevention). She also delivers training and resources to support evidence identification and appraisal for cost, quality, service improvement, and leadership. She is co-author of the Searching Skills Toolkit, which aims to support health professionals' searching for best quality clinical and non-clinical evidence. Her research interests are health management, commissioning, public health, consumer health information literacy, and knowledge management. She currently works as a Knowledge and Evidence Specialist for Public Health England, and works on the Commissioning Elf in her spare time.

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