To All BAME Communities: What's Stopping You From Therapy?

This post might be interpreted in various ways. While the reasons or lack thereof for taking part in therapy are nuanced, the benefits of seeking help for your difficulties is an investment than anything else. Let’s discuss some of the reasons why the BAME who are unsure in seeking therapy or can’t seem to access it, should definitely aim to access therapy.

Let’s highlight some of the statistics that show the low numbers of BAME who even undertake any form of therapy:

Baker (2018) suggest that, compared to people from white backgrounds, people from most BAME communities are:

• less likely to use IAPT services (13% of IAPT referrals are from BAME groups whilst 20%

of England’s population are from BAME groups)

• less likely to complete treatment (46% of White service users complete treatment

compared to 40% of Asian service users)

• less likely to reliably improve (66% of White service users reliably improve compared to

61% of Asian service users)

• less likely to achieve full recovery (50% of White service users achieve full recovery

compared to 44% of Asian service users)

In all four categories, the numbers compared to the white community is on average, 6% lower. That may not be a large difference however to put this in to perspective, if we take the hypothetical figure of 100,000 of all white people accessing therapy, 6% less would be 94,000, meaning that 6000 less people who perhaps may need therapy aren’t getting it. That could range from trauma, OCD, grief, abuse and a range of other issues that aren’t getting addressed. Figures aside, the important question is why are those people not receiving therapy? Is it because they don’t think therapy or counselling will help them or is it because they haven’t found a suitable therapist to address their problem area yet?

Khan et al. (2019) findings show that GPs might have difficulty in communicating effectively with patients when the need for referral arises. This mean that patients may not receive the right help they require. So it’s important GPs are further educated in understanding the BAME community and for those people who have language barriers, there are online and self-referral systems and such systems do offer translators so people can comfortably understand whats being asking of them. IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) has tried to improve access to therapy and there seems to be growing numbers of people who seem to have benefitted from such providers. Though there is still further improvements to be made so as many people as possible across all socioeconomic areas can access therapy when needed and without feeling discriminated.

Though not all BAME members are the same and some have lived in the U.K. their whole lives or even born here, others may have migrated so for such people, there naturally is apprehension about what therapy entails. Therefore, educating those people on psychological therapy and how it can help them or holding community meetings where the audience can ask questions with confidentiality. Distributing leaflets highlighting the benefits and role of therapy is also a useful way of explaining therapy.

As you can see, there are many different ways of communicating the role of therapy to minority groups and using all the different ways will be helpful. In my experience, the way I deliver therapy to BAME varies from person to person and culture to culture. Just because there may be one hundred people of a particular culture, do not assume that the following person will be the same, in fact, they might be quite different and have different viewpoints. Just take it for what it is and assess each person according to themselves. Everyone deserves the right to therapy and it’s our job as health professionals to make that happen. Until next time.


Baker, C. (2018). Mental health statistics for England: Prevalence, services and funding. Briefing paper, 6988. House of Commons Library.

Khan, S., Lovell, K., Lunat, F. et al. (2019). Culturally-adapted cognitive behavioural therapy based intervention for maternal depression: a mixed-methods feasibility study. BMC Women’s Health, 19, 21.