Six in ten Black, Asian and minority ethnic psychiatrists have experienced racism at work

Online news
21 January 2021
  • Only 29% of these racist incidents were reported
  • The Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling for urgent action to tackle racism in mental healthcare

Six in ten (58%) Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic psychiatrists have faced overt or covert racism at work, but only 29% of these incidents were reported according to new research from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Over a quarter (29%) of psychiatrists from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background who’ve experienced racism say that it affected their health and four in ten (41%) say it had an impact on patients or carers.

More than half (55%) say that reporting a racist incident resulted in no change. The data is based on a recent Royal College of Psychiatrists survey of 233 respondents from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background across the UK.

To tackle the problem the College is calling for mandatory training that specifically covers the impact of unconscious bias on decision making and structural inequalities for all mental health staff.

Psychiatrists are also making the case for recording incidents and collecting data on experience of discrimination across all stages of career progression, as well as developing guidance to support employers to stamp out discrimination and support staff.

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“It’s clear that prejudice and discrimination are deeply embedded across society and sadly even in healthcare. We need to empower mental healthcare staff to report racist incidents while offering assurances that decisive action will be taken when they do.
“No one should ever have to suffer racism and discrimination at work, it not only affects their own mental health but also the patient care they can provide.”

Thirty-nine per cent of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ members are Black, Asian and minority ethnic – with 27% of members being Asian, 6% Black, 2% mixed heritage and 4% other. The College recently published an Equality Action Plan to help combat structural barriers faced by psychiatrists and trainees throughout their careers and in their day-to-day work.

Dr Lade Smith CBE, Presidential Lead for Race Equality of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“Everyone should be treated fairly regardless of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender status, religion or any other characteristic. Prejudice and the discrimination that stems from it are inherently wrong and can lead to profound distress and unhappiness, which negatively affects mental wellbeing.
“It’s time to act and put equity at the heart of mental healthcare. There is no quality without equity.”

Find out more about the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Equality Action Plan.

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