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Mental health staff lack knowledge to meet the religious and cultural needs of BAME inpatients, study finds

Posted on 15 July 2020

Some hospital staff lack the knowledge to meet the religious and cultural needs of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) inpatients on mental health wards, a new study shows.

The report concluded that potential ways to address the gap included training for inpatient staff.

The research, from the University of York, revealed there was no specific assessment used to identify religious and cultural needs and not all inpatient staff received training on meeting these needs. 

Concerns were raised about difficulties for staff in differentiating whether unusual beliefs and practices were expressions of religiosity or delusions.

Staff also identified that family members often had a role in assisting staff to identify and understand religious and cultural needs.

Cultural needs

Lead researcher, Kuldip Kaur Kang from the University’s International Centre for Mental Health Social Research said: “Inpatient staff demonstrated some understanding of BAME inpatients’ religious needs but this was predominantly limited to prayer, dietary requirements and access to holy books or faith representatives. 

“This limited knowledge of religious needs and ignorance of cultural needs may have been linked to there being no specific assessment to identify a BAME inpatient’s religious and cultural needs.”

The report concluded that potential ways to address the gap included training for inpatient staff and the production and updating of a directory of common religious and cultural practices and needs.  

Detained

Co-researcher and co-author, Dr Nicola Moran from the University’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, said: “Religion can be closely linked to mental health distress as a coping mechanism. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) note a lack of consideration of an inpatient’s religious needs can adversely affect their experience of being detained and despite this, the extent to which inpatients’ religious and cultural needs are met is not often explored in a medical environment. There is also a lack of research in this area.”

This is the first study of its kind to consider inpatient staff views on meeting the religious and cultural needs of BAME informal patients and patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. Researchers conducted interviews with nine inpatient staff in psychiatric wards in one NHS Trust in England.

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About this research

‘Experiences of inpatient staff meeting the religious and cultural needs of BAME patients detained under the Mental Health Act’  is published in the Mental Health Review Journal.

 

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