Date Published: 19 December 2005

New research hopes to discover how different perspectives influence mental health assessments

Mental Health issues - UK

Recent UK figures indicate that Black African and Caribbean people are three times more likely to be admitted to hospital and up to 44% more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act. A new research programme is to explore how practitioner values affect their understanding and assessment of mental health problems experienced within Black African and Caribbean communities.

The Mental Health Foundation in partnership with the University of Warwick has launched an online survey to find out whether the feelings, values and beliefs held by practitioners especially, influence their assessment of service users' mental health problems. They also want to hear from service users, carers and others working in the voluntary sector, and within Black African and Caribbean communities about their understanding of mental health problems.

The online survey, which has been designed by Dr Colin King, a practitioner and former service user, helps respondents explore their own values in relation to everyday judgements they may be asked to make at work. All responses are anonymous.

Toby Williamson, Head of Policy at the Mental Health Foundation, said:

" Because mental health involves thoughts, feelings, values and beliefs, these same factors come into play when mental health problems are being assessed by practitioners. This can become even more complicated when working with service users from different ethnic backgrounds. By recognising this when understanding or assessing mental health problems it could enable people to be much clearer and more honest, leading to better relationships between practitioners and service users.

_ We need to work towards providing services that are better informed, sensitive, and aware of their own prejudices. If practitioners understand that there are many different possible explanations for people's distress, it should improve the way in which they work with Black African and Caribbean groups."

The online survey is open from 9 January to 24 February 2006 - visit

Source(s): Mental Health Foundation, UK

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