New mental health report must prompt changes to staff training

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today said that a new report from the Mental Welfare Commission which found differences in the ways the Mental Health Act is applied when people from ethnic minorities are detained for mental health care and treatment compared to white Scottish people, particularly between black women and white Scottish women, must prompt a new emphasis on training for staff and support for patients.

The report found a real need and desire for training for staff on ethnicity and diversity, with over 70% of staff surveyed saying there were gaps in training available in Scotland’s NHS.

Scottish Liberal Democrat Mental health spokesperson and counsellor, Jane Alliston said:

"Though I welcome the recognition of the importance of the voluntary sector in this service provision, this report needs to prompt a swift response. We know that too often equality of access to appropriate mental health care is lacking. This report highlights how ethnicity and gender impact this access and outcomes by the most vulnerable in society. 

"The Scottish Government should look to improve data collection to better understand the current landscape of need versus provision and to improve training and support for staff.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats are committed to championing the cause of Scotland's national mental health. That means ending the long waits for treatment and addressing the staffing issues  to get to grips with this national crisis."

Under the Mental Health Act, ‘risk to oneself and/or to others’ is one of the criteria that must be met for authorising involuntary treatment. The report found that more people who were black or of mixed or multiple ethnicity were perceived as a greater risk to themselves and others, whereas all categories of white people were more often perceived as a risk only to themselves. Gender exerts a role on risk perception. The greatest difference was between black women, 48.4% of whom were perceived as of risk to themselves and others, and white Scottish women, of whom 33.8% were considered to be both a risk to themselves and to others.

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