To compare rates of admission for different types of severe mental illness between ethnic groups, and to test the hypothesis that larger and more clustered ethnic groups will have lower admission rates. This was a descriptive study of routinely collected data from the National Health Service in England.
There was an eightfold difference in admission rates between ethnic groups for schizophreniform and mania admissions, and a fivefold variation in depression admissions. On average, Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups had higher rates of admission for schizophreniform and mania admissions but not for depression. This increased rate was greatest in the teenage years and early adulthood. Larger ethnic group size was associated with lower admission rates. However, greater clustering was associated with higher admission rates.
Our findings support the hypothesis that larger ethnic groups have lower rates of admission. This was a between-group comparison rather than within each group. Our findings do not support the hypothesis that more clustered groups have lower rates of admission. In fact, they suggest the opposite: groups with low clustering had lower admission rates. The BME population in the UK is increasing in size and becoming less clustered. Our results suggest that both of these factors should ameliorate the overrepresentation of BME groups among psychiatric in-patients. However, this overrepresentation continues, and our results suggest a possible explanation, namely, changes in the delivery of mental health services, particularly the marked reduction in admissions for depression.
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