Mental health statistics: black, Asian and minority ethnic groups

Though the area of mental health in black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups is under-researched, BAME groups are generally considered to be at higher risk of developing mental ill health.1

Below is a summary of the research to date, but please apply caution when interpreting these results.

The 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) found the prevalence of common mental health problems to vary significantly by ethnic group for women, but not for men. Non-British white women were the least likely to have a common mental health problem (15.6%), followed by white British women (20.9%) and black and black British women (29.3%).2 Black adults were also found to have the lowest treatment rate of any ethnic group, at 6.2% (compared to 13.3% in the white British group).3

In contrast, a 2015 study by Stewart-Brown and colleagues found that those of African-Caribbean, Indian and Pakistani origin showed higher levels of mental wellbeing than other groups; this was found to be largely attributed to higher levels of wellbeing found among men.4

A review published in 2015, exploring the association between ethnicity, mental health problems and socioeconomic status found people from black ethnic minority backgrounds to have a higher prevalence of psychosis compared with the white majority population. This effect was still observed after controlling for socioeconomic status.5

Studies show that PTSD is higher in women of black ethnic origin and this association is related to the higher levels of sexual assaults that they experience;6 however, women of black ethnic origin are less likely to report or seek help for assaults or trauma.7

Disproportionate rates of people from BAME populations have been detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. A 2016 UK study examining the Mental Health Act 2007 assessments found this to be disproportionality associated with higher rates of mental health conditions and poorer levels of social support, but not due to ethnicity.8

In Northern Ireland, the suicide rate among male Irish Travellers is 6.6 times that of men in the general population. This group also continues to experience discrimination, with 65% of people reporting that they would not accept an Irish Traveller as a close friend.9

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  1. Bhui, K., & McKenzie, K. (2008). Rates and risk factors by ethnic group for suicides within a year of contact with mental health services in England and Wales. Psychiatric Services, 59 (4), 414–420.
  2. Stansfeld, S., Clark, C., Bebbington, P., King, M., Jenkins, R., & Hinchliffe, S. (2016). Chapter 2: Common mental disorders. In S. McManus, P. Bebbington, R. Jenkins, & T. Brugha (Eds.), Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital.
  3. Lubian, K., Weich, S., Stansfeld, S., Bebbington, P., Brugha, T., Spiers, N. … & Cooper, C. (2016). Chapter 3: Mental health treatment and services. In S. McManus, P. Bebbington, R. Jenkins, & T. Brugha (Eds.), Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital.
  4. Stewart-Brown, S., Samaraweera, P., Taggart, F., Kandala, N.B, & Stranges, S. (2015) Socio-economic gradients and mental health: Implications for public health. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 206(6), 461–465. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.114.147280.
  5. Kirkbride, J.B., Barker, D., Cowden, F., Stamps, R., Yang, M., Jones, P.B. & Coid, J.W.(2008). Psychoses, ethnicity and socio-economic status. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 193(1), 18–24.
  6. Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, M.J., Walters, S.G., Merrick, M.T., & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 summary report. US Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from [Accessed 23/08/16].
  7. Ullman, S.E., & Filipas, H.H. (2001). Predictors of PTSD symptom severity and social reactions in sexual assault victims. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 14, 369–389.
  8. Gajwani, R., Parsons, H., Birchwood, M., & Singh, S.P. (2016). Ethnicity and detention: Are black and minority ethnic (BME) groups disproportionately detained under the Mental Health Act 2007? Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 51(5), 703–711.
  9. All Ireland Traveller Health Study Team. (2010). All Ireland Traveller Health Study: Summary of Findings. Retrieved from [Accessed 19/07/16].