Mental Health Conditions

1 in 4 Adults will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime.

African-Caribbean people living in the UK have lower rates of common mental disorders than other ethnic groups but are more likely to be diagnosed with severe mental illness.[1]

The pattern has remained consistent over many decades: greater admission and detention rates among ethnic minority groups, especially Black individuals, more specifically Black Caribbean, Black British and Black African patients. People in these groups also experience less primary care management of their illnesses and entered through forensic services, and the criminal justice system.[2]

African Caribbean people are also more likely to enter the mental health services via the courts or the police, rather than from primary care, which is the main route to treatment for most people. They are also more likely to be treated under a section of the Mental Health Act, are more likely to receive medication, rather than be offered talking treatments such as psychotherapy, and are over-represented in high and medium secure units and prisons.

Research indicates that Black men are disadvantaged by inaccessibility to psychological therapies.

Mental health problems in the Asian community are often unrecognised or not diagnosed.

In South Asian communities Shame, fear and secrecy surround mental illness

  • The causes of mental illness are often misunderstood
  • The family can be both caring and isolating
  • Social pressure to conform
  • People with mental health problems are not valued
  • Marriage prospects can be damaged by mental illness[3]

[1] Mental Health Foundation. (2019). Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. [Online]. Available from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/b/black-asian-and-minority-ethnic-bame-communities

[2] The Synergi Collaborative centre. (2018). The impact of racism on

mental health. [Online]. Available from: https://synergicollaborativecentre.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/The-impact-of-racism-on-mental-health-briefing-paper-1.pdf

[3] Time to change. (2010). A report into attitudes towards mental health problems in the South Asian community in Harrow, North West London. [Online]. Available from: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/sites/default/files/imce_uploads/Family%20Matters.pdf

Psychosis is a symptom of a serious mental health condition. It is characterised with an impaired ability for an individual to distinguish between what is real or not. An individual might hear voices and see things that are not really there.

Evidence shows that Black people have a higher prevalence of psychosis compared with the white majority population, but this is largely related to the impact of discrimination, social circumstances and culturally biased interpretation of symptoms.

In accordance with the diagnostic criteria of DSM-5 (2013). One out of (1), (2) and (3) has to be present for an extended period of time to receive schizophrenia as a diagnosis. Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that alters the way an individual thinks, feels, behaves and perceives.

  1. Delusions
  2. Hallucinations
  3. Disorganised speech
  4. Grossly disorganised or catatonic behaviour
  5. Negative symptoms

African-Caribbean people are three to five times more likely than any other group to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital for schizophrenia.

Asian people have better rates of recovery from schizophrenia, which may be linked to the level of family support.[1]

Schizophrenia is associated with:

  • double the risk of death from heart disease
  • three times the risk of death from respiratory disease.

This is because people with mental health conditions are less likely to receive the physical healthcare they’re entitled to. Mental health service users are statistically less likely to receive routine checks (like blood pressure, weight and cholesterol) that might detect symptoms of these physical health conditions earlier. They are also not as likely to be offered help to give up smoking, reduce alcohol consumption and make positive adjustments to their diet. [2]

[1] Mental Health Foundation. (2019). Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. [Online]. Available from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/b/black-asian-and-minority-ethnic-bame-communities

[2] Mental Health Foundation. (2019). Schizophrenia. [Online]. Available from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/schizophrenia

Schizoaffective disorder is a combination of schizophrenia type symptoms (delusions or hallucinations) and mood disorder symptoms (depressive mood or mania).

There are two types of Schizoaffective disorder:

Bipolar type, which includes episodes of mania and sometimes major depression

Depressive type, which includes only major depressive episodes[1]

You will be diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder if you have both types of symptoms at the same time or within two weeks of each other.

[1] Mayo clinic. (2017). Schizoaffective disorder. [Online]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizoaffective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20354504

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects an individuals mood. A person can swing from a period of mania (abnormally elevated mood), hypomania (elevated mood but less severe) to a major depressive episode (very low mood). Psychotic features can be present during manic or depressed episodes. Bipolar is divided into two main types:

Bipolar I

To be diagnosed with Bipolar I, a person must have had at least one manic episode and one major depressive episode. The depressive episode must have occurred either before or after the manic episode. The symptoms of a manic episode may be so severe that a person may require inpatient treatment. [1]

Bipolar II

Bipolar II involves a major depressive episode lasting at least two weeks and at least one hypomanic episode. People with Bipolar II typically do not experience manic episodes intense enough to require inpatient treatment. [2]

[1] Roland, J. (2017). Bipolar 1 Disorder and Bipolar 2 Disorder: What Are the Differences? [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-1-vs-bipolar-2

[2] Roland, J. (2017). Bipolar 1 Disorder and Bipolar 2 Disorder: What Are the Differences? [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-1-vs-bipolar-2

Major depressive disorder is also known as clinical depression, unipolar depression or simply depression. It involves low mood, loss of interest and pleasure in usual activities, including other symptoms. The symptoms are experienced most days and last for at least two weeks.[1]  Symptoms of depression interfere with all areas of a person’s life, including work and social relationships. Depression ranges in seriousness from mild, moderate and severe depression. [2]

Depression is prevalent among Black women.

[1] Beyond Blue. (2018). Types of depression. [Online]. Available from: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/types-of-depression

[2] Hall-Flavin, D. (2017). Clinical depression: What does that mean? [Online]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/clinical-depression/faq-20057770

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It is defined as ‘a feeling of unease, worry or fear which, when persistent and impacting on daily life’.[1] If this becomes excessive, disproportionate and immobilising to everyday function, then this might be a diagnosable mental disorder.

Symptoms of anxiety include changes in thoughts and behaviour, such as:

  • Restlessness
  • A feeling of dread
  • A feeling of being “on edge.”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension

There are different types of anxiety disorder, each of which will have slightly different symptoms and treatment. Some examples of anxiety disorders include:

  1. Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  2. Panic Disorder (regular sudden attacks of panic or fear)
  3. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  4. Social Anxiety Disorder
  5. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  6. Specific Phobias (overwhelming and incapacitating fear of a specific object, place, situation or feeling)[2]

Common mental disorders such as anxiety are most prevalent among Black women.

[1] Mental Health Foundation. (2018). Anxiety. [Online]. Available from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/a/anxiety

[2] Mental Health Foundation. (2018). Anxiety. [Online]. Available from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/a/anxiety

A personality disorder is a mental disorder that impacts your personality. Your personality is related to a pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving that is enduring. If you have a personality disorder, then you will experience difficulties in the way you think, feel and behave. There may be significant problems in the way you relate with others, and it will hard to change unwanted patterns.

There are about ten recognised diagnosable personality disorders.

  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Schizoid personality disorder
  • Schizotypal personality disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Histrionic personality disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Avoidant (or anxious) personality disorder
  • Dependent personality disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCDP)

The types are grouped into three categories:

· Cluster A: ‘Odd or Eccentric

· Cluster B: ‘Dramatic, Emotional, or Erratic’

· Cluster C: ‘Anxious and Fearful’

Black African and Black Caribbean people tend to be over-represented in mental health services diagnosed predominantly with a severe mental illness but underrepresented in personality disorder services. The reason for this is unclear but it demonstrates that there needs to be careful analysis of the possible biases in attitudes and assumptions when assessing for Personality Disorder in Black and Ethnic minorities.

An Eating Disorder is when you have an unhealthy attachment to food and exercise severely that it interferes and takes over your life and can make you ill.[1]

There are four types of Eating Disorders:

Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating disorder and Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED).

OSFED is the most common, then binge eating disorder and bulimia. Anorexia is the least common.

Factors that contribute to the onset of Eating Disorder in a western culture in which being thin is considered the ideal body shape, the portrayal of an unattainable body type in society promoted by media.

Eating disorders are more common in young women. Up to 1% of women in the UK between the ages of 15 and 30 suffer from anorexia nervosa, and about 2-3% develop bulimia nervosa.

Bulimia Nervosa

People with Bulimia Nervosa feel at times they have lost control and subsequently eat an excessive amount of food in a very short amount of time (binging) and are then deliberately sick, with the use of laxatives (medication to help you poo), restricting what you eat, or doing too much exercise to stop weight gain.

They are concerned or distressed about their weight and body shape.

They are compensating for binge eating by repeatedly trying to control weight in extreme ways, such as purging (vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics) or exercising excessively.

Binging and purging can be a symptom of both Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia Nervosa. However, people with Bulimia Nervosa are not extremely underweight like people with Anorexia Nervosa.

Anorexia Nervosa

The goal that people with Anorexia Nervosa have is to lose weight. As a result of significant weight loss, they lose too much, become underweight and become unwell. They do this by severely restricting their food intake and exercising excessively.

There is a preoccupation with body shape and weight.

Some people with Anorexia Nervosa severely restrict their eating, and may also exercise excessively. Others may binge-eat (eat a large and excessive amount of food in an uncontrolled way), and then make up for overeating by purging (vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics).[2]

Binge Eating Disorder

People with binge eating disorder eat large quantities of food, over a short period (called bingeing). This is done often very quickly and to the point of discomfort. After bingeing overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame and distress are experienced.[3] [4]

Binges are often planned in advanc, and the person may buy “special” binge foods.

Other Specified feeding or eating disorder

People who are diagnosed with Other Specified feeding or eating disorder have symptoms that do not exactly fit the expected symptoms for any of the three specific eating disorders.

OSFED is every bit as serious as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, and people diagnosed with OSFED accounts for a large percentage of eating disorders.[5]

[1] NHS. (2018). Eating disorders. [Online]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/eating-disorders/

[2] Your health in mind. (2015). Eating disorders. [Online]. Available from: https://www.yourhealthinmind.org/mental-illnesses-disorders/eating-disorders

[3] NHS. (2017). Binge eating disorder. [Online]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/binge-eating/

[4] Beat eating disorder. (2017). Binge Eating Disorder. [Online]. Available from: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/types/binge-eating-disorder

[5] Beat eating disorder. (2017). Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). [Online]. Available from: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/types/osfed

Developmental disorders comprise a group of psychiatric conditions originating in childhood that involve serious impairment in different areas.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a range of similar conditions, including Asperger syndrome, that affect a person’s social interaction, the way they communicate, their interests and behaviour. If you have autism, you have autism for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’.[1]

It’s estimated that about 1 in every 100 people in the UK has ASD. More boys are diagnosed with the condition than girls.

Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals that are diagnosed with ASD experience double discrimination due to their ethnicity and ASD.

[1] National Autistic society. (2016). Autism. [Online]. Available from: https://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/asd.aspx

If you feel that you are likely to harm yourself or someone else, then call 999 immediately for immediate help.

Psychological support

This will involve working through your thoughts, feelings and behaviours with a trained professional. If you need help, to speak to one of our team to get help to find a therapist today.

A GP or Psychiatrist can discuss different medication options to manage both the physical and psychological symptoms of your condition. There is a range of medication that can be used to manage your condition, and it is important to discuss with your GP, Psychiatrist or Health Care Professional, which one would be most appropriate for your circumstances.

If things cannot be contained at home or with family. Perhaps some time in hospital followed with treatment including medicinal, psychological and nursing may be what is in store. You can be admitted informally, voluntarily or you can be ‘sectioned’ detained under section 2 or 3 of the Mental Health Act.