Guest blog post by Neelam Zahid

Neelam Zahid is a BACP accredited Counsellor and Psychotherapist, trained in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy, and has been practising as a therapist since 2004. As well as offering individual therapy, Neelam has run Mindfulness, Relaxation and anxiety groups.

Neelam has specialist training in Counselling Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse, Bereavement Counselling, Online Counselling, Mindfulness, Phobia and Trauma Treatment (The Rewind Technique), and Group work. Neelam has delivered a number of Cultural Awareness Workshops for trained professionals at the AUCC and BACP conferences, as well as for trainees in various educational institutes.

Ahead of Neelam's training day with Wimbledon Guild on Saturday 14th November Exploring Transcultural Relationships within Therapy she has kindly contributed the following article to our blog.

Neelam Zahid

Mental health inequality within black and ethnic minority communities

Research has also shown that black and Asian people accessing mental health services are more likely to experience a poor outcome from treatment, and disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health. Black people are more likely to be given medication than be offered psychotherapy, and mental health treatment is often unsuitable and culturally inappropriate for Asian communities. This demonstrates that mainstream mental health services are failing to meet the needs of black and ethnic minority British communities, and provide services that are acceptable and accessible to them.

In multicultural Britain, it is important for counsellors and psychotherapists to take responsibility for addressing the emotional and psychological needs of ethnic minorities. Cultural awareness training should be compulsory during initial counselling training, as it improves counselling competence and exposes unconscious bias. It also gives therapists the opportunity to understand the relationship they have with their own culture. Reviewing current therapy practices and providing culturally appropriate and sensitive therapy, is a step towards addressing the inequality within the mental health system, and breaking the cycle of institutional racism.