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Counselling services should not be ‘one size fits all,’ say experts

Culture is an important factor in helping Asians deal with mental health challenges.
Culture is an important factor in helping Asians deal with mental health challenges.

by NADEEM BADSHAH MENTAL HEALTH services need to be overhauled after figures showed south Asians were among the least likely to show improvement from NHS treatment, experts have urged. The highest rate of improvement was shown by white men with anxiety and depression at 66.5 per cent, while patients of Asian origin had the lowest rate at 61.5 per cent, according to government data. Among minorities, 8.6 per cent of British Bangladeshi patients showed a “deterioration” in their condition, the highest percentage for any ethnic group. Campaigners have called for counselling services to be tailored to ethnic minorities and community leaders to do more to encourage people suffering in silence to seek support as Mental Health Awareness Week (May 13-19) is marked. Balraj Purewal, director of the Asian Health Agency, told Eastern Eye: “The idea of talking therapies (is something) we don’t connect with it culturally. It’s taboo. “The idea of talking about issues to a professional whom you don’t know is difficult, particularly for some women. We need to sow those seeds so people are encouraged to recognise what is happening and take steps to seek support.” He added: “The professionals are trained in ‘white models’. This approach is hit and miss, it is not accessible. It ought to be done in community centres and faith centres. BAME organisations and communities need to raise the issue of mental health to encourage people. “Mainstream organisations (also) need to engage with BAME communities. In between the six NHS counselling sessions you are offered, where do these people go?” NHS figures published in March also showed that among women patients in England, the ethnic groups most likely to feel worse after therapy were Bangladeshi (9.4 per cent) and Pakistani (8.1 per cent) females. Previous research has shown south Asian women are two…

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