Are black people, in the UK, more likely to end up in mental institutions?

The quick answer to this question is “Yes”

But maybe, the real question is “why are they more likely to end up in mental institutions?”


“Is racism involved with black people in mental institutions?”

Before I go into the detail of how black people are four times more likely than white people (statistics taken from NHS report 2017-18) to end up in detention under the Mental Health Act, let’s talk about David “Rocky” Bennett.

To most people David “Rocky” Bennett’s name would not mean anything to them. Bennett was admitted into Novic secure psychiatric clinic, in Norwich for schizophrenia.

Bennett, was killed when five nurses pinned him face down on the ground for twenty-five minutes.

Bennet died aged 38 in October 1998.

Negligence, you may say. However, Sir John Blofeld, a retired high court judge thought differently and wrote a report stating that Bennett’s death had more to do with racism within the mental institutions.

The report pointed out that a fight had broken out with two different patients and that David Bennett, a black Rastafarian was being targeted with racial abuse, however, he (not the person racially abusing him) was removed to a secluded room, where he died.

Blofield words read that Bennet’s death was a result of “corrosive and cumulative effect of racial abuse upon a black patient”

Unfortunately, this was not the first enquiry into systemic racism in psychiatric hospitals. The concerns had previously been raised in a report called “Big, Black and Dangerous” regarding the death of three black men in Broadmoor Psychiatric hospital.

Michael Martin, Joseph Watts and Orville Blackwood all died whilst in seclusion cells.

Recommendations were made in the attempt to rectify the issue, however, processes can change, but unless the systemic racial indoctrination changes, these events can never truly be prevented.

Now, back to the question as to why black people are more likely to end up in mental institutions.

This is a little bit harder to determine without stirring the pot with lots of conjecture.

In 2005, John Carvel of The Guardian wrote that black people are three times more likely than white people to be admitted into mental hospitals. As I stated before in 2017-2018 a report stated that they were four times more likely. Which would indicate that things are getting worse.

When I was growing up in the early 80’s, there was dialogue between black people that suggested that black people who were being picked up by the police, were being taken to Mental hospitals and pumped full of drugs if the police were unable to charge them for any crime.

This is pure conjecture, however, The Guardian report also stated that black people were twice as likely to be sent to mental institutions by police or the courts, which in some ways supports my conjecture. I have recently asked many black people about what they feel about mental health for black people in the UK, without providing any context and everyone stated that black people see it as weak to speak out and request psychological help.

If that’s the case, why would there be, disproportionately, more black people being held in these institutions?

Surely, if black people are more reluctant to seek mental health support there should be less black individuals represented?

I know none of this provides any definitive answer to the question and only leaves more speculation than fact on the table, but when it comes to Mental health how would it be possible to definitively state that the recommendation for an individual to be sent to a mental hospital was influenced by institutional racism and bias?

It’s for you to decide.

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