We welcome the call for urgent action to address ethnic inequalities in access to NHS Talking Therapies in England published in a landmark report by National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health and NHS Race & Health Observatory.

It found that psychotherapy services need better tailoring to meet the needs of Black and minoritised ethnic groups.

The report, based on 10 years of service data and patient experience, also found that, despite initiatives to redress longstanding inequalities, people from racialised communities continue to experience longer waiting times, lower rates of treatment following referral, and worse outcomes from NHS Talking Therapies*, compared to White British groups.

Our 2022 policy paper Race for Soul of the Profession highlighted inequalities in training and progression for counsellors, as well as the value of culturally appropriate therapy to help make therapy more accessible.

So, we recognise the complex and deep-rooted systemic, cultural factors that contribute to enduring inequalities in access and outcomes for people from racialised communities - and back the call for urgent action from Government, commissioners and services to recognise and address them.

We also agree the best way to address these inequalities is by making better use of local data to improve access and enhance understanding of mental health inequality. Recruiting culturally sensitive and ethnically diverse therapists should also be a priority.

Jeremy Bacon, our third sector lead, says:

“This is a timely reminder that the racial inequalities laid bare by the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movements continue in people’s experience of NHS psychological therapy services.

“It is encouraging that the report identifies pockets of positive and progressive activity in Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations. In some areas counselling services specialising in working with clients from racialised communities are commissioned to deliver NHS Talking Therapies, but many more are receiving referrals from NHS sources but without funding.

“This is why we’ll continue to pressure the UK government to invest in local community-based counselling services, including high quality, accessible and culturally sensitive services to people from marginalised community backgrounds and those at greatest risk of psychological distress and mental ill health.”

Listen to our series of podcasts exploring racism, racial trauma and anti-racism, recorded as a collaboration between BACP and Hackney Council.

*Previously called Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT).