, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 351-359

Income-related inequalities in common mental disorders among ethnic minorities in England

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Abstract

Purpose

The relative prevalence of common mental health problems among different ethnic groups in Britain is one of the least researched topics in health variations research. We calculate and compare income-related inequalities in common mental disorders among ethnic groups in Britain.

Method

Data from a nationally representative survey of ethnic minorities (the EMPIRIC survey) were used to calculate concentration index values to indicate the extent of income-related inequalities within and across ethnic groups.

Results

Looking at income-related inequalities in common mental disorders within each of the ethnic groups, it was found that the burden of these disorders were greater for the lower income groups among the Irish, White and African Caribbean communities. Within-group inequality was less clearly defined for each of the three Asian communities: Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani. However, when the data were pooled and individuals were assigned income ranks in the pooled set (not within their own ethnic group), the relative position of those in lower income groups among the different groups was striking. The poor among the Bangladeshi, Pakistani and the African Caribbean groups clearly suffered both from low income and a greater burden of mental health morbidity than the other three groups. The effect of lower income is thus worse for the mental health of populations if they are African Caribbean, Pakistani or Bangladeshi than if they are White, Irish or Indian.

Conclusion

Inequality in mental health morbidity between and within ethnic groups is at least partly linked to income, and thus to employment and education. Tackling disadvantage and discrimination in these areas could help to tackle the challenge of mental ill-health.