Mental health advocacy with black and minority ethnic communities: conceptual and ethical implications.

Current Opinion in Psychiatry 20(6):588 (2007) PMID 17921760

Recent policy and legislative developments confirm the right to advocacy for people experiencing mental health problems. Provision of mental health advocacy for black and minority ethnic communities is particularly identified as a key objective for Primary Care Trusts. This review considers the implications for commissioners and practitioners of ensuring access to appropriate advocacy for service users from black and minority ethnic community. There is a dearth of literature on mental health advocacy with black and minority ethnic communities. The available research suggests that mainstream conceptualizations of advocacy are not meaningful to these communities and this adversely affects access. Advocacy provided by black community and voluntary sector organizations begins with understanding racism and social disadvantage. It is therefore concerned with addressing these inequalities and resonates strongly with current concepts of recovery. People from black and minority ethnic communities are not well served by current provision of mental health advocacy, and there is a risk that this will be replicated in the development of independent mental health advocacy, under the amendments to the UK Mental Health Act of 1983. This largely reflects the conceptualization of advocacy and its purpose. The implications for both commissioning and provision of advocacy are explored.