Clinicians should support patients with depression from minority ethnic backgrounds to access help in languages that they can understand, NICE has said.

A new draft quality standard, which sets out priority areas for quality improvement for the care of adults with depression, includes a statement to help people with depression from minority ethnic family backgrounds to access mental health services.

The independent advisory committee, which includes experts in treating adults with depression, has also recommended the staged withdrawal of antidepressants.

The committee said primary care and mental health professionals should follow the NICE guideline recommendations on stopping antidepressant medication, including agreeing with their patient whether it is right for them to stop taking the medication and if so, the speed and duration of withdrawal from it.

NICE said that the statement ‘highlights that adults from minority ethnic family backgrounds are disproportionately less likely to access mental health services’ as they ‘may be among those who face stigma due to being treated for a mental health condition.’

It follows data which shows that only 57% of people from mixed, Black, Black British, Asian or Asian British family backgrounds completed a course of treatment for depression, compared with 64% of people from a white family background.

Dr Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: ‘It is clear from the data that there is a disproportionate number of adults from a minority ethnic family background who are not completing treatment via IAPT services.

‘As a healthcare system we need to look for innovative ways to help people from these family backgrounds to get the help and support they need which is culturally appropriate to them.

‘I hope that our statement will help ensure adults with depression from minority ethnic family backgrounds are supported to access mental health services and tackle this avoidable health inequality issue.’

NICE suggested that adults are given a choice of methods to access mental health services and that services are delivered in a way that is ‘culturally appropriate,’ alongside information about routes to treatment that is culturally appropriate and available in in a language that they can understand.

The draft also said GPs should be ‘aware of local pathways and relevant culturally adapted information available in different languages’ and offer different options for accessing services.

He added: ‘There are millions of people taking antidepressants. If an individual decides they want to stop taking this medication, they should be helped by their GP or mental health team to do that in the safest and most appropriate way.

‘In many cases people experience withdrawal symptoms, and the length in time it takes them to safely come off these drugs can vary, which is why our committee’s useful and useable statement for a staged-withdrawal over time from these drugs is to be welcomed.’

Last year, NICE published the final version of the update to its 2009 guidelines on managing and treating depression in adults, NG222.

This follows five years of consultations and serious concerns about the methodology underpinning recommendations outlined in the previous two drafts.

The final version outlined several treatment options for patients presenting with a new episode of depression that is ‘less severe’ (formerly termed ‘mild’) and ‘more severe’ (previously ‘moderate’ and ‘severe’).

A consultation on the five statements included in the quality standard has now begun and feedback can be made via until Tuesday 14 February.