Chair responds to racial inequalities report

Scotland news
23 September 2021

Mental health services in Scotland are affected by “racial inequalities” - a review has indicated.

The application of mental health legislation differs across ethnic groups, while perceived risks either to oneself or to others also varied across ethnicities, according to the report by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWC), which examined data for the past 10 years.

It found people who are black or of mixed ethnicity were seen as a greater risk to themselves and others, whereas all categories of white people were more often seen as a risk only to themselves.

The greatest difference was between black women, 48.4% of whom were perceived as a risk both to themselves and others, and white Scottish women, for whom the figure was 33.8%.

Risk to oneself and/or to others is one of the criteria for authorising involuntary treatment.

A key safeguard of having an independent specialist consent to all emergency detentions, which experts have previously said is too low across the board, was lowest for black people.

Fewer than half (45%) of detentions involving black people had the safeguard, compared with 53% of detentions among white Scots, the report added.

Dr Linda Findlay, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said: "We’re opposed to all forms of discrimination and believe everyone should be treated fairly, no matter their race or background.

"That's why we're developing guidance on workplace racism and taking other actions under our Equality Action Plan. 

“Measures include the introduction of a fellowship scheme, aimed at medical students and foundation doctors from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“We're also reviewing core and higher training, so it reflects the skills and knowledge needed to deliver care to patients of all ethnic groups.

“The College will work with the Commission on this agenda and review the recommendations made.

"Fairness within society should be centre-stage at every turn to ensure respect for all.”

Read a summary of the MWC report

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