Mixed-race children 'are being failed' in treatment of mental health problems

The fastest growing ethnic group in Britain is still being treated as if it is only integrated into black culture, says report

Children of mixed race are at greater risk of suffering from mental health problems and are not getting the support they need, says a report.

Despite mixed-race children belonging to the fastest-growing ethnic group, the research, backed by the National Children's Bureau, found that they faced "unrealistic" expectations from teachers and other adults who did not understand their backgrounds.

While mixed-race young people are over represented in the care, youth justice and child protection systems, the authors said they were "invisible" in public service practice and policy.

The report – Mixed Experiences – growing up mixed race: mental health and wellbeing – drew on several studies and interviews with 21 people about their experiences as children.

Co-author Dinah Morley was concerned at the lack of understanding over what it meant to be mixed race, a group most likely to suffer racism. "I was surprised at how much racism, from black and white people, had come their way," she said. "A lot of children were seen as black when they might be being raised by a white single parent and had no understanding of the black culture. The default position for a child of mixed race is that they are black."

The report found that those with mixed-race backgrounds were more at risk of mental health issues because of their struggle to develop an identity. Morley said the strongest common experience was the "too white to be black, too black to be white".

The 2011 census showed that the mixed-race population was the fastest growing ethnic group in Britain, amounting to 2.2% of the population of England and Wales.

In 2012, research by the thinktank British Future found that prejudice towards mixed-race relationships was fading. The report, The Melting Pot Generation – How Britain Became More Relaxed About Race, talked about the "Jessica Ennis generation", crediting the London Olympics 2012 athlete with changing attitudes towards mixed race. "That positive role model is also seen as something very important," said Morley.


Tracy McVeigh

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Care for children with mental health problems is woeful, say GPs
Vulnerable young people facing wait of up to a year for specialist help, survey of doctors finds

Denis Campbell and Jamie Doward

14, May, 2016 @8:48 PM

Article image
Troubled children at risk from mental health proposals, warn therapists
Fears that green paper on better care in schools will take scarce resources away from young people with the most serious problems

Denis Campbell

27, Jan, 2018 @10:00 PM

Article image
Some children reach brink of suicide before getting help with mental health, charity warns
Lack of resources among local authorities is so severe that UK faces worst crisis in 150 years, says Barnardo’s

Mark Townsend

05, May, 2018 @2:11 PM

Article image
Mental health problems rife among teenagers but teachers lack skills to help
Four in five 12- to 16-year-olds experience ‘emotional distress’

Rachel Ellis

26, Mar, 2017 @12:05 AM

Article image
China struggles with mental health problems of 'left-behind' children
Youngsters have been isolated by government one-child policy and parents moving to find work, writes Tania Branigan

Tania Branigan in Beijing

30, Aug, 2014 @7:30 PM

Article image
Theresa May pledges mental health revolution will reduce detentions
Prime minister says new legislation is needed to end discrimination resulting from current Mental Health Act

Michael Savage

06, May, 2017 @11:04 PM

Article image
Children’s tsar savages NHS over 'unacceptable' mental health care
Anne Longfield accuses NHS England chief of ignoring young people’s experiences

Jamie Doward

15, Oct, 2017 @9:38 AM

Article image
Headteachers believe pupils are ‘let down’ on mental health
Survey of headteachers by CentreForum finds significant gaps in the ‘critical’ treatment of their pupils’ mental health needs

Jamie Doward

10, Jan, 2015 @8:52 PM

Article image
Tory plan for mixed-race adoptions challenged
Long-term study of Hong Kong orphans adopted by white parents show negative effects of racism and problems of identity, contradicting government policy goal

Mark Townsend, home affairs editor

03, Feb, 2013 @12:06 AM

Article image
England's child mental health services 'failing three-quarters of kids'

'Cinderella service' hit by budget cuts and increasing demand

Jamie Doward

18, May, 2014 @9:52 AM