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Ethnic minority mental health services 'must improve'

22nd February 2007

The government has called for the "rapid improvement in the way mental health services respond to the needs of BME [black and minority ethnic] patients".

Health minister Rosie Winterton was speaking at the Delivering Race Equality (DRE) in Mental Healthcare conference, where she launched a guide to help health workers better support BME patients.

"One in five people treated in hospital for a mental health problem comes from a black and minority ethnic background," she said.

"Although some of the reasons for this - such as social exclusion - cannot be tackled by the NHS in isolation, we still have a moral and legal duty to do more.

"Some communities view mental health services with mistrust and are dissatisfied with their care."

The action plan would help remedy this by informing front-line professionals of how to "play their part" in improving services for BME patients, as well as providing funding for 500 community development workers and other resources.

The guide, called Positive Steps, is part of the government's five-year drive to deliver race equality in mental health care.