For some time, minority populations have been more susceptible to mental health problems, and have received insufficient treatment from their health care networks. This brochure will outline some of the potential problems, and consider some of the reasons why people of a minority background may be averse to seeking treatment. We will also look at some potential improvements that have been suggested, or are now being implemented.

Throughout this brochure, we’ll use the term ‘minority population’ to refer to any population that is not the predominant population of that region or country. In most cases, this is based on ethnicity. In the case of the USA, we will also refer to the Native American population. Whilst we do acknowledge there are a number of flaws in grouping all minority populations into one all encompassing group, we are following the pattern laid out in the research literature. It has also been found that many minority groups will have similar living and health seeking experiences, which justifies this grouping.

There are also problems with incorrect categorisation when it comes to racial minority classifications, with one study finding up to half of classifications to be incorrect. So we’ll overcome some of these problems by using the larger grouping in this brochure.

Globally, it has been known for some time that those who are in minority populations have received sub-par mental health care, compared with the majority population. With less than optimal treatment, people in these populations are less likely to achieve a full recovery, meaning an ongoing negative impact on their life. This is a circular issue as it means they’ll continue to suffer and struggle, which increases the risk of further mental health problems. And this may be compounded by the risk of double discrimination: an ethnic minority who is suffering from mental illness. In other words, somebody who is a member of both categories is potentially at risk twice. This further highlights the need for mental health services globally to adapt to the changing needs of their citizens; particularly now that globalisation is leading to more ethnically diverse nations. Studies have found that those who immigrate are often mentally healthier than those in the destination country, but this wears off after several years, implying that the services available are just not suitable for these minority populations.

To find out more, download our mental health in minority populations guide: