All mental health services are expected to aim for equality of access to people from minority ethnic groups. Psychotherapy services typically have a low proportion of ethnic minority clients. Specialist services such as therapeutic communities are no exception. It is also possible that ethnic minority residents are more likely to leave group treatments early if they are clearly in the minority. The study examined records between 1996–2000 to ascertain whether ethnic minorities show a different pattern of exit from the process than people from other backgrounds.
Just over 9% of referrals to Henderson Hospital were from ethnic minorities. Ethnic minority referrals were less likely to be invited to a selection interview. However, there was no difference in length of stay in treatment. There was a trend towards ethnic minority referrals having more severe symptomatology and histories than those from White backgrounds.
Ethnic background should be taken into account when considering referral for specialist psychotherapy. Routine monitoring of the processing of ethnic minority referrals should be conducted in all psychotherapy services.
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