TACKLING mental health problems in ethnic minorities should take religion and spirituality into account, Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi has told the Commons.

Speaking during a Parliamentary debate, Ms Qureshi claimed mental health issues among black and ethnic minority communities were often not diagnosed properly, saying they could struggle to access “appropriate” treatment which was culturally sensitive.

Ms Qureshi told the Commons: “Members touched on mental health issues in black and minority ethnic communities.

“I will mention that as well because, in addition to a number of barriers, such as jobs, stigma and rejection by family and friends, they also face the barrier of accessing appropriate care and treatment that is also culturally sensitive.

“Although it is accepted that there is nothing genetically that makes people from black and minority ethnic groups more vulnerable to mental health issues, often those issues are not diagnosed properly.”

She also said psychiatry should take a more rounded view, taking into account religion and spirituality of the people being treated, rather than always taking a “purely medical” approach.

Ms Qureshi added: “Psychiatry in the United Kingdom, understandably, is based on the Western understanding of mental illness and often medical models are used to treat it, but in fact mental health means different things to different people from different cultures and different communities, and they can be affected by many different issues, such as spiritual, religious and background issues.

“Those might relate, for example, to the countries they have come from.

“Therefore, a purely medical approach is not necessarily the right one for many people.

“A more holistic approach that looks at a person’s overall health should be considered.”

And her comments have been welcomed by mental health professionals in Bolton.

Psychologist Tom Turner, owner of private practice The Psychology Team — which operates in Bolton and Horwich — said: “Given one of the main treatments for the most common mental health complaints — such as anxiety and depression — is cognitive behavioural therapy, which is the main talking therapy that the NHS employs, an investigation of the beliefs and attitudes of the clients being treated is a part of that.

“People working with these communities should have an understanding of their cultures and beliefs.”