May 22, 2007

Is the Mental Health System Racist?

MindHacks - the blog that focuses on new research related to the brain and mind - reports today on the topic of racism and mental health. While the focus is on issues in the UK - the message is something that is probably applicable in most countries that have significant numbers of people from different races.

This question is particularly relevant because of the evidence that indicates that the social stress of immigration, as well as prenatal stress and prenatal nutrition - are significant factors in increasing risk of schizophrenia. Given the high levels of poverty in immigrant communities (and therefore higher stress and poorer nutrition), and increased risk of schizophrenia (as demonstrated in UK Studies) - this is an important topic.

MindHacks notes "BBC's Newsnight programme just had an interesting video report on the renewed debate about whether mental health services are institutionally racist.

While these accusations have been made for some time, what is new is that some black and ethnic minority mental health workers who work in these communities are starting to argue that this label actually makes it more difficult to provide fair treatment to their patients."

Read the full story: Is the mental health system racist?

Posted by szadmin at May 22, 2007 10:57 AM

More Information on Schizophrenia and Race


Previously posted in UK forum.

Posted by: Tim at May 23, 2007 03:33 AM

dear sir madam
in my experinces with hospital and mental health care . i can honestly say ive never been or seen racist comments in the hospitals .to cut it short whatever colour u are OUR bloods the same .

Posted by: scottlarock at May 23, 2007 05:56 AM

I read the article in Mind Hack and it stated something very interesting. It seems that when race was removed from the documentations that the rate of schizophrenia was still the same, in ethnic minorities. Which means race was not relevant. However, i believe the religious beliefs of these people were neglected and not factored in. Here is just one example, most Negro's in England come from the West Indies. In that particular region of the world Christianity and Voodoo fused together. Creating a rather perplexing combination for most English, Americans, etc... to accept. The views would seem almost juxtaposed if you are constipated,in a Nietzchen sense, by your own logic.
I would like to see how many West Indians, Indians, Native Americans, Aboriginals etc.. where diagnosed with schizophrenia in their native countries. The WHO states it is 1/100 no matter the country, or Ethnic group. So these statistics are probably influenced by a large amount of cultural prejudice.
Bullying, poor job opportunities, etc caused by racism in the general public and probably some small blame on medicine in general.
Up until the 1950's in America, usually upon arrival into any hospital no matter the condition Negroes and other minorities where castrated. Doctors who are suppose to be intelligent people should have known better, they should have ignored the publics general ignorance. Instead they just went along with it and even promoted this mass stupidity. And no this is not Scientology propaganda. Look up miscegenation, or however you spell it! And you will find some really shocking stuff. Remember use a proper encyclopedia!
So is psychiatry to blame for this ridiculousness? Are these doctors who come from ethnic minorities really representing their ethnic group? I highly doubt that their parents where big into the 'culture,' or better yet they got some 'dosh' from their big bosses to talk out against this debate, sorry i had to say that! :)
It really boils down to how society seems to want to crush everything that is different from the norm. Sterilizing and removing anything deemed as a blemish, to the 'eye'. There seems to be many mini Hitlers out there who go out of their way to do as much damage as possible.
And All in all why does it matter? You still get the same medication whether you are bipolar, Schizophrenic, or even depressed, yes i have seen a depressed person receive more Haldol, Serquel, and Olanzapine than i ever had in a month within an afternoon. Yes! It is a bit of an exaggeration but you know it gets the point across. So how does the diagnosis actually affect the course of treatment? Which is what the doctors main point was. In truth we all get treated the same. Its just painting a P.C. color over some nasty dirt that someone has found under the 'carpet.'

Posted by: Max at May 23, 2007 06:31 PM

My son suffers from schizophrenia so though I am not a doctor I study this condition a lot. The only scientific reason to treat one race of person differently is if there are proven genetic differences that warrant it. For instance if young Caucasian males have a higher incidence of EPS on respideral maybe they should be given Zyprexa instead. Racism is everywhere but should we assume all racially divided treatment data is caused by racism?

Posted by: Darrell at May 24, 2007 10:07 AM

The way a person responds to zyperxa and other antipsychotics is never race dependent. In fact an individuals response is different across the board so race is not relevant in response to these drugs. It is only quantity dependent see the test results from Lilly,etc.. They researched these factors along time ago when it comes to psychiatric medicine, they always include a mixed population in their studies.
Doctors have a very hard time finding the right drug for their patient no matter the race. EPS etc.. occur in just the same frequency, no matter the race, ethnic group etc... Except for in Old Women with dementia who are prescribed these drugs. So this sort of data is useless for any sort of research into treatments. The idea of the whole article is to create a debate that already has a premeditated ending. Using doctors of a minority to support this sort of racial prejudice is rather low.
Darrell read the article in Mind Hack and maybe read it again. And like you said racism is everywhere, or a lack of insight into cultures, especially when people are diagnosing thoughts, to find an illness. Most of these people should be considered bipolar. Not only that the doctors obviously had a 'look' at these patients, but did not write down the ethnicity. I think the study is flawed in so many ways. If they do not release a full report that is more than 10000 words it is totally useless. And should be taken with a pinch of salt, like most research into this minefield of logical blunders. I have never even seen results versus the controls in these experiments. When a person is 13 they learn in a science class that you must always have a control to the experiment and it should always be incorporated into the conclusion. I usually never see this simple procedure, and it makes my mind boggle... And I never said that we should assume all racially divided studies are caused by racism, just this particular study... Which has evidence to suggest that it is. Read the WHO statistics, its 1/100 across the board. The rate of diagnosis is to high for schizophrenia its in fact 9 times higher in this 'singular' study, something foul is lingering in the air.

Posted by: Max at May 24, 2007 12:00 PM

Post a comment

Please enter this code to enable your comment -
Remember Me?
(you may use HTML tags for style)
* indicates required