Aaron Lennon’s breakdown must lead to more help for troubled minorities | Health | Life & Style

The busy arterial route runs past Salford Royal Hospital, with a fug of mundane commuter traffic heading in and out of Manchester. 

But it is the place where Premier League footballer Aaron Lennon found himself alone and vulnerable as crisis squeezed tight and the nation was shocked into a realisation about the impact of mental health. 

The 30-year-old was held under the Mental Health Act on Tuesday, triggering a narrative about his high octane salary, multi-million-pound transfer fees and 21 England caps.

But this is more than a simplistic story of privileged professional sportsman crashing and burning. 

There are more relevant and sobering statistics around his case: if you are a black man in Britain, you are 17 times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious mental health condition and six times more likely than a white man to be an inpatient at a mental health unit. 

Detention rates under the Mental Health Act are 2.2 times higher for people of African origin and 4.2 times higher for people of Caribbean origin than the average, according to the Care Quality Commission. 


Aaron Lennon was held under the Mental Health Act on Tuesday

The unbalanced equation is a timely reminder that, despite the euphoria of the Heads Together campaign that culminated in the landmark London Marathon in aid of mental health two weeks ago, there is still a huge distance to travel. 

It is the big social injustice issue of our time

Isabella Goldie of the MHF

A leading mental health campaigner describes the lack of services and poor awareness of the plight of black, Asian and minority groups as a “national shame”. 

“It is the big social injustice issue of our time,” says Isabella Goldie, director of development at the Mental Health Foundation. 

“Access to mental health services has been at an alarming point for a number of years across the board and the people who do least…

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