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Black children 'suffering in silence', says health report

CONCERNS: Report has found black children are being let down by mental health services (pic: posed by model)

BLACK CHILDREN are being left to battle mental health problems in silence, a new report suggests.

The report, Enjoy, Achieve and Be Healthy: The mental health of black and minority ethnic children and young people, said many 11 to 25-year-olds were suffering with mental illnesses such as psychotic disorder, anxiety, depression and fear about being able to cope with life.

Despite this, this group were being failed by mental health services, campaigners have said.

Mhemooda Malek from The Afiya Trust, who commissioned the report, said: "The overall picture is that mainstream public services and programmes, with some notable exceptions, are failing to meet the mental health needs of ethnic minority children and young people. They are more likely to come to the attention of services at the point of crisis."

She said there was inadequate knowledge of available information and how it can help young people.

"A lot more needs to be done to highlight the range of difficulties," she told The Voice. "If we had the right support, it wouldn’t reach crisis point."

Patrick Vernon, Afiya’s chief executive, said the Trust commissioned the report after seeing black youngsters failed by "education, criminal justice, health and social services."

The report came from a policy overview and a seminar with young people from minority ethnic communities between the ages of 11 to 25.

It found that most of those who took part did not feel confident about getting help because of worries that mental health services might not guarantee safety and confidentiality.

The Office for National Statistics most recent study on children with mental health issues, conducted in 2005 shows that one in 10 of all UK children between the ages of one and 15 live with some form of mental illness.

However, it is not clear how many of these children are from minority ethnic backgrounds children because there is no ethnic breakdown of the statistics.

The Afiya report also found racism, racial harassment and racist bullying can all contribute to the development of mental health problems in young black people.

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