Supporting Black mental health

Black people are 4x more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than white people - NHS Digital, 2020

The 10th of October is World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is ‘Make Mental Health and Wellbeing for all a Global Priority’. In light of Black History Month, we thought would highlight the struggles and barriers that the Black community face when seeking mental health support and where you can go if you need some extra support.

Barriers faced by the Black community

Alongside factors which can affect everyone’s mental health, Black people also have other issues and barriers that impact their mental health and stop them from seeking professional treatment.

One example of this is racism and discrimination:

“Racism can range from micro-aggressions (subtle but offensive comments) to explicit hurtful words to verbal or physical aggression” (Mental Health Foundation, n.d.). Exposure to such acts can be damaging to one’s mental health as it can be stressful and traumatic.

It is important to highlight that “people from BAME backgrounds can have different experiences of the mental health system compared to white people. Some BAME groups are less satisfied with their experiences of the NHS, GP and hospital services compared to the rest of the population” (Rethink Mental Illness, n.d.). For example, some barriers that people from BAME backgrounds faced when receiving healthcare included:

  • Cultural barriers where mental health issues aren’t recognised or aren’t seen as important,
  • Language barriers,
  • Professionals having a lack of knowledge about things that are important to someone from a BAME background, or their experiences,
  • White healthcare professionals not being able to fully understand what racism or discrimination is like” (Rethink Mental Illness, n.d.)

Read Angela’s blog about the biases she faces as a Black woman when trying to access mental health care.

Read a blog by Sian which talks about how racism impacts their mental health.

Although, the Black community has additional barriers when accessing mental health treatment to overcome, there are still a large range of resources available to you if you are struggling or need someone to talk to.

Resources and where to get help

Here are some different ways you can manage your mental health and a range resources available for you when you are struggling:

  • Talk to our counselling and wellbeing team who can offer you professional counselling, wellbeing and mental health support.
  • Talk to the Student Welfare team who can help you with any personal difficulties you may experience during your time at the University.
  • Try speaking to someone you trust – this may be a friend, family member, health care professional etc. – taking this first step can help you feel more confident to seek help from mental health services (Rethink Mental Illness, n.d.).
  • Take a friend or relative to your appointment – taking someone you feel comfortable with to your appointment can help ease your anxiety and  they can support you during your appointment (Rethink Mental Illness, n.d.).
  • Ask for a healthcare professional who has a similar cultural background as you – Speaking to someone from a similar background as you can help make you feel more comfortable and help you overcome any cultural barriers you may feel when talking to someone from who doesn’t share a similar cultural background to you (Rethink Mental Illness, n.d.).
  • Take a social media break – when you are feeling overwhelmed, take a break from the social platforms that you receive your news from and focus on some self-care like meditation or reading a book.

Find out more ways you can reach out for help.

Online resources:

  • Black Minds Matter UK – Their “mission is to connect Black individuals and families with free mental health services — by professional Black therapists to support their mental health” (Black Minds Matter UK, n.d.).
  • Therapy for Black Girls – “Therapy for Black Girls is an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls” (Therapy for Black Girls, n.d.).
  • Rainbow Noir – “Rainbow Noir is a volunteer led social, peer support and community action group, which celebrates and platforms people of colour who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer and/or Intersex (LGBTQI)” (Rainbow Noir, n.d.)
  • Young Black men programme – “The aim of the programme is to increase understanding of mental health problems, reduce the stigma surrounding them and learn about how and where to seek help when you need it” (Mind, n.d.)
  • Mental Health Resources for Black people and PoC – ILPA

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