My thesis for my post-graduate course researched reasons why recent immigrant women living in the UK who are experiencing domestic violence do not engage the law and it was at this time when I realised that in the UK, mental health problems are more common among BME communities than they are in the general population, that BME communities are more likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services, encounter mental health services through the criminal justice system rather than a referral from GPs and are disproportionately detained under the Mental Health Act. I work for a mental health service provider and truly access to this service by people from BME communities is next to zero. This inspired me to set up an organisation that would stop mental ill-health in BME communities before it stops them so I approached my colleagues Susie Brennan and Margaret Msimbe who both have a wealth of experience in health and social care, particularly mental health and Inini Initiative Ltd was born.
In the UK, asylum seekers, refugees and migrants are met with a hostile environment where they face inequalities across all indicators of economic and social wellbeing. Many of them occupy positions of disadvantage. They have higher rates of unemployment and if employed are overqualified for their jobs and face discrimination, live in poorer housing, report poorer health, and have lower levels of academic achievement. In the UK, it is established that mental health problems are more common among BME communities than they are in the general population. Evidence suggests they are disproportionately detained under the Mental Health Act 2007 and usually come into contact with mental health services through the criminal justice system rather than the general referral system. There is evidence they present at a crisis point which suggests an unwillingness to engage with mental health services. Historically, people from minority ethnic communities are known to be underrepresented in health research and hence, most interventions are developed for mainstream societies. This precludes the understanding of their health needs thereby having a negative impact on the development of effective services and interventions.