Lennon calls on SNP to act on BAME Mental Health

In light of comments by Dr. Asif Khan, Scottish Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, Monica Lennon, has written to the Scottish government urging them to investigate systemic problems with referrals and treatment of BAME people with mental health issues.

Dr Asif Khan, a GP in Glasgow, told the BBC that fewer people from the BAME community are referred on for specialist help, and when they are eventually referred they tend to be “over-treated.” He added that “harsher psychiatric diagnoses are made” and “more patients end up being sectioned” as a result.

Consultant psychiatrist Professor Sashi Sashidharan added “generally it would appear that if you are from a minority ethnic group in Scotland you get a worse kind of mental health experience.”

A report by the Education Policy Institute released last year showed that young people from ethnic minorities were far less likely to access traditional mental health treatments than the general population.

“The concerns raised by members of Scotland’s BAME communities over unequal access to mental health services within NHS Scotland are deeply worrying." said Lennon.

“That is why I have written to the Health Secretary urging her to swiftly investigate the concerns of these individuals and the medical experts who have spoken out and act to ensure everyone in Scotland has adequate access to mental health services instead of being denied good health outcomes."

“It’s been five years since research published in Scotland found inequalities in mental health care for minority ethnic groups. People will rightly be asking Nicola Sturgeon’s government why they haven’t made this better."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring everyone receives the best possible care and treatment, regardless of their background.

“We recognise that people from minority ethnic groups can find it hard to open up about their mental health or believe they will be listened to, but we are clear that ethnicity must not be a barrier to receiving high quality care.”

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