Commission for Equality in Mental Health Briefing

Problems with access to mental health support are well known, with waiting times and eligibility criteria now widely debated and a major focus of national policy. Yet access issues run deeper.

Too many people and communities have been left behind. Groups facing particularly high levels of poor mental health also, paradoxically, often experience the greatest difficulty in accessing services: an inverse care law. In understanding the reasons some groups of people do not seek help as readily as others, it is important to look beyond the statistics and to see help-seeking as a two-way street. Sometimes, inequalities in access arise because people don’t trust the support on offer or judge that it is not for them. Some communities have lost trust in mental health services, either through fear of a coercive response or because they see them as irrelevant to their daily concerns of money, housing, isolation and safety.

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