by See Change Ambassador, Blessing Dada
What is exclusion and what does it mean to me?
People (in general) with mental illness(s) have a high risk of living socially excluded from the mainstream society. In most developed countries, substantial disparities exist in access to mental health services for black and minority ethnic populations. With my lived experiences, I can say personally that disparities in access to mental health services can be reflected on variation in actual black and ethnic minority mental health needs and/or the product of institutional, cultural, and socioeconomic exclusion factors, which disadvantage those from black and ethnic minority background. There is considerable complexity in the association between race and mental health. The patterning of racial differences in mental health appear to vary by indicator of mental health status.
When we talk about exclusion: we need to consider that people from ethnic minorities (this also includes Travellers) and marginalized communities are more likely to have poorer health outcomes and find it difficult to access healthcare than the majority population. Examples would include – cultural naivety, insensitivity, barriers to communication and discrimination towards the needs of black and ethnic minority service users and lack of awareness of different services among service users and providers.
People from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds require considerable mental health literacy and practical support to raise awareness of mental health conditions, combat stigma and close the gap of being excluded from these conversations. There is a need for improving information about services and access pathways. Black individuals are less frequently included in research, which means their experiences with symptoms or treatments are less likely to be taken into consideration. Healthcare providers need relevant training and support to effectively deliver individually tailored healthcare services that meet the social, cultural, and linguistic needs of users. Improved engagement with people from diverse backgrounds, in the development and delivery of culturally appropriate mental health services, could facilitate better understanding of mental health conditions and improve access
A more inclusive knowledge base that includes the voices and studies of Black people in the field of psychology (and other related areas) is necessary. People of colour have a unique viewpoint that is often not represented in the common knowledge perspective. This inclusion is critical to better equip mental health clinicians to handle the unique needs of our diverse Irish population and close the gap on exclusion. Inclusive education surrounding mental illness and normalizing mental health problems may help individuals recognize that treatment for a mental health problem doesn’t have to be any more shameful than treatment for a physical health problem. We all have mental health, and we all need to emphasize commitment to inclusion and social equity.
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