New research released today (Wednesday 26 March) shows a shocking 93 per cent of people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities who have mental health problems face discrimination because of them (1).

The report shows people are trying to cope with discrimination across various areas of life, such as finding and keeping a job, relationships and friendships, and social life; and suggests that people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities are facing discrimination in double the number of areas as the wider population.

A previous Time to Change Viewpoint survey (2011) which questioned a national sample of 1,000 people, who access secondary mental health services in England, showed reported discrimination in an average of four or five areas of life. Despite the new survey sample being different, some broad comparisons can be made. This new survey of 740 people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities who access a wider range of mental health services and other support, shows discrimination in an average of 10 areas of life.

Time to Change (the anti-stigma and mental health campaign run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness) commissioned research agency Ethnos to undertake what is thought to be the largest survey of its kind in England. The new research gives a more detailed insight into the levels and sources of discrimination faced by people from a range of Black and Minority Ethnic communities than the existing population-wide Viewpoint survey. The new survey will be used as a baseline to monitor whether discrimination within a wider range of communities is reducing as national attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems improve.

Worryingly, three quarters of respondents in the latest survey (73%) report having experienced some form of racial discrimination, including a quarter (28%) in the last year – showing the damaging combination of racial and mental health discrimination that many people have to face.

The most common areas of mental health discrimination for Black and Minority Ethnic communities are making and keeping friends (68%), being shunned by people that know they have a mental health problem (68%), in finding (68%) and keeping a job (67%) and in social life (67%), meaning mental health problems are becoming life limiting for some people. The previous Viewpoint research found that people using secondary services experienced the highest levels of stigma from being shunned, amongst family, friends, in their social life and with mental health staff. However, in all areas, discrimination was experienced by a noticeably lower percentage compared to Black and Minority Ethnic communities surveyed here (Table 1).

Although stigma and discrimination come from society at large, one third (32%) also say they were treated less favourably by their own communities because of their mental illness due to various social and cultural reasons.

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change said, “This new survey provides richer insight into the experience of mental health discrimination across a wider range of Black and Minority Ethnic communities, the different areas of life affected and the compounding impact of high levels of racial discrimination. This will inform our work and support the work of others who are helping communities start new conversations about mental health and address stigma and taboos in a range of culturally appropriate and effective ways.”

Sandra Griffiths, Time to Change Black and Minority Ethnic Equalities Coordinator said, "Tackling mental health stigma and discrimination experienced by Black and Minority Ethnic communities needs to be tackled at an individual, community and societal level. Without this strategic approach the double discrimination that Black and Minority Ethnic people with mental health problems face will continue. Time to Change is committed to being part of a broader movement to stopping this trend."

Local projects working to end mental health stigma and discrimination amongst a range of Black and Minority Ethnic communities have been awarded a third of the Time to Change grants fund (nearly £750,000). These include projects in mosques and Black Majority churches, work with Pakistani and other South Asian groups and with a range of African and Caribbean communities, and a project working with refugees and asylum seekers.

Some of the unique projects include:

  • The ‘Changing Perspectives through Church Champions’ project which uses drama presentations and testimonials to engage congregations in African faith settings throughout England about the topic of mental health. 
  • ‘Tottenham Talking’ will engage with Black and Minority Ethnic communities about mental health by sharing personal experience of mental health problems over tasty food. Volunteers will run ‘eat and talk’ sessions at community festivals, shopping centres, parks and schools as well as a popular community kitchen.

The Time to Change programme also has a priority focus on working with African and Caribbean communities, and has included advertising campaigns and community events to reach audiences. This week also sees the release of new materials and films that share the stories of people from African and Caribbean backgrounds who have experienced mental health problems that have been co-produced in partnership with community organisations, including the Rafiki project and East London Hopefuls. Materials are being distributed by community champions and can also be downloaded from the Time to Change website.

The campaign is also working on a number of partnership projects including a ground-breaking new pilot project, 300 Voices (2) run in partnership with Birmingham & Solihull NHS Foundation Trust and working with young African and Caribbean men which aims to reduce stigma and discrimination in statutory health settings and the police.

Another partnership project, Stereo-Hype festival, created a space to discuss and explore mental health stigma, discrimination and wellbeing issues within African and Caribbean communities through performance and visual arts.


For more information please contact Victoria Evans, Senior Media Officer at Time to Change at or call 0208 2152 341/07584 003 703.

Notes to Editors

Download the report summary here 

Download Table 1 showing a comparison of the areas of life where respondents have been treated unfairly 

1. The survey questioned 740 Black and Minority Ethnic people experiencing mental health difficulties. The survey was carried out during February and March 2013. The survey was conducted both online and face-to-face.

2. The year-long project has been launched in partnership with Birmingham & Solihull NHS Foundation Trust. The aim is to engage with 300 young African and Caribbean men aged between 18 and 25 with experience of inpatient care as well as 900 statutory sector staff and police officers. Ultimately, the project hopes to create a legacy of positive experiences for both young African and Caribbean men and statutory staff.