The importance of promoting mental health in children and young people from black and minority ethnic communities

Author(s): Lavis, Paula;  

Corporate author: Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition

Briefing series: Better Health Briefing Paper 33

Publisher: Race Equality Foundation

Publication date: May 2014

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             The importance of promoting mental health in children and young people from black and minority ethnic communities
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This briefing looks at the policy framework for mental health service provision and provides examples of existing practice which promote mental health for black and minority ethnic children and young people. It also highlights the impact of poor or incomplete data on commissioning and provision of mental health services for black and minority ethnic children and young people. This briefing also looks at specific factors that put children and young people from black and minority ethnic communities at risk of developing mental health problems as well as protective factors that can help build resilience.

Key messages:

  • While previous Government mental health policy specifically targeted the mental health of people from black and minority ethnic communities, and the current mental health policy covers all age ranges, there has been little specific focus on the mental health of black and minority ethnic children and young people evident in government policy.
  • To support the planning, commissioning and provision of mental health support for children and young people from black and minority ethnic communities, more research is needed into the nature and prevalence of their mental health problems. It is also important to recognise the specific needs of different black and minority ethnic groups and individuals, including those of mixed heritage backgrounds, rather than viewing them as a homogeneous group. This will help identify what services or interventions will best provide help and support.
  • We cannot predict which children and young people will develop a mental health problem, but there are factors which undermine healthy mental functioning and decrease resilience. However, there is still more to learn about how these factors impact on children and young people from black and minority groups.
  • There are a number of barriers which put young people from black and minority ethnic groups off accessing mental health services. Commissioners and service providers need to work with children and young people to develop evidence based and culturally appropriate services that they will use. These could be provided by a range of different agencies or organisations such as statutory sector services, including schools, and voluntary and community sector organisations, such as black and minority ethnic organisations, churches, temples and faith groups and so on.
  • Children and young people from black and minority ethnic communities are less likely to engage with services which could intervene early to prevent mental health problems escalating. Health and wellbeing boards and local commissioners need to ensure that these services are prioritised within their local commissioning plans and that they develop culturally sensitive services that are appropriate and acceptable to children, young people and their families.

Sections:

  • Current government policy and the lack of focus on black and minority ethnic groups
  • Data and research into the nature and prevalence of mental health problems in children and young
    people from black and minority ethnic communities
  • Risk factors for mental health problems
  • Barriers to young people accessing services
  • Children, young people and their families not accessing early intervention