Marginalised groups ‘bear undue proportion of mental ill-health’

London Assembly committee report recommends action to improve access to timely, appropriate support for LGBT and deaf people, those with disabilities and recently released prisoners

NHS services need to have a better understanding of the needs of marginalised groups with mental health conditions, or risk making their illnesses worse, a report states.

The London Assembly health committee says marginalised groups in the capital should have a greater say in how services are delivered. Picture: iStock

The London Assembly’s health committee found mental ill-health is significantly higher in lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people (LGBT), people with disabilities, deaf people and those who have been in the criminal justice system. 

The committee spent a year examining the problems faced by these four marginalised groups in the capital and identifying solutions.

Service design and delivery

Its report, Supporting Mental Health For All, calls for services to be more inclusive, with people from these groups given a greater say in how services are designed and delivered to ensure they meet their needs.

It says the language used by health professionals can sometimes be offputting, intimidating or discriminatory, and this can prevent people from accessing the care they need or discussing sensitive mental health issues.

It recommends greater availability of diversity and inclusion training for healthcare staff, focusing specifically on the needs of LGBT, disabled and deaf people.

Other issues highlighted by the committee include:

The report recommends the development of a suicide audit tool to identify and address gaps in data collected from marginalised groups.

Committee chair Onkar Sahota said: 'Marginalised groups continue to bear an undue proportion of mental ill-health in London, through a lack of access to timely, appropriate and acceptable support.'

Dr Sahota welcomed the mayor of London's focus on mental health and said encouraging developments had been made through Thrive LDN, an initiative that aims to ensure better understanding of and support for mental health issues.

‘Raising awareness is not enough’

'Addressing mental health inequalities will not happen overnight and raising awareness of the issue will not be enough on its own,' Dr Sahota said. 'It is vital that new efforts are made to identify and reach out to people who are excluded from accessing the support they need.'

Responding to the report, RCN London operational manager Jude Diggins said: ‘These findings are deeply disappointing. When chronic and sustained cuts are made to mental health services it is so often those in marginalised groups who are left without access to the specialist treatment they need.

'Ensuring all people can access the most appropriate mental health service remains difficult. The rhetoric around prioritising mental health services must finally become positive, visible action with the appropriate resources.'

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