Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Are race campaigners institutionally racist?

The reason why I ask is that there was another fascinating piece on Newsnight last night discussing the rather obvious institutional racism in psychiatry. The figures are shocking. It seems that if you are an Afro Caribbean you are 8 times more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems than a white person and if you are black, from Africa you are 6 times more likely.

On the face of it you would question those in the field. Well, unsurprisingly there are some black and ethnic minority practitioners of psychiatry and others did some research into the subject. After all they presumably wanted to know whether they were working with closet members of the Klu KLux Klan who had just got clever about hiding the bed sheets and pointy white hats. You would wouldn't you?

The research is staggering and turns the "racism in psychiatry" on its head. It is not that it does not exist, but in fact after their research it turns out that if you have any symptoms of a mental illness and are white you are more likely to be locked up.

There are a whole host of knock on problems. For a start black people with mental health issues are likely to not get the right treatment early enough because the psychiatrists are worried about being branded racist. In some cases it appears that instead of getting urgent help some are discharged to kill which is scary.

The other fascinating thing is that immigrants the world over, regardless of colour or ethnicity suffer greater mental health problems then they otherwise would do.

In short race campaigners have spent so much time shouting about racism that they have failed the very people they claim to protect rather than asking for specific research to identify the truth of the allegation.

You can currently read this piece on the Newsnight article but it does not cover the research.

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