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Racial stereotyping perpetuates inequality and poor mental health support for black communities.

The discussion on mental health is not as obscure as it once was. The importance of looking after your own mental health is paramount for any individual. Despite this, black, Asian, and ethnic minority (or so called BAME) communities have experienced a variation of setbacks and challenges when seeking help and guidance with their mental health. These communities are often left feeling unheard and uncared for due to different factors hindering their voice when seeking help.

A discussion on this social issue has been ongoing for some time, with a variation of regional organisations and charities committed to providing support for these communities. Organisations such as Mind, Black Lives Matter, Sharing Voices and Nilaari are leading the conversation and raising national awareness.

Moreover, this platform will also be an outlet for providing useful tips and discussions on the topic of mental health, and we’ll be promoting organisations and charities that provide support in the community.

It is important to understand onerous discussions which need to be had on why individuals from these communities have not been acknowledged in the same way.

We spoke to GP, Dr Chris Udenze, who highlights his experience of dealing with the stigma around mental health.

Dr Udenze says that whilst he has been working in the health care profession as a GP, he has seen that often, individuals from BAME backgrounds, feel reluctant to talk about their mental health. He has also seen how they can face inequality when they do seek to use mental health services. Furthermore, Dr Udenze highlighted that gender plays a pivotal role with this stigma, he states:

“Especially black men, with all our issues about not showing ' ‘weakness’. Black men tend to mask their emotions, and some do not realise they have a mental health issue due to mental health being stigmatised or not spoken about in their communities”.

A study by The Mental health foundation shows that black men are more likely to have experienced some form of psychotic disorder compared to their white or Asian peers.

Dr Udenze goes on to highlight some of the stereotypes faced by black men, women and children in the mental health system, he says:

“Black men are one of the most neglected groups when it comes to getting support for their mental health. Black women often feel as though they are perceived as the ‘angry black woman’. And for black youths (both male and female) they are simply “not trusting [of] health care providers. In addition, there is a lack of access to black providers”.

These stereotypes of black men, women and black youths addressed by Dr Udenze highlight a harmful stigma. With these labels being placed on people, it becomes more difficult for these groups to have the courage to ask for help.

Dr Udenze says underfunding is impacting on the quality of mental health services, and he would like to see a change in funding for the NHS. Indeed, nhsfunding sets out 9 effects of underfunded healthcare, and among them are delays to treatments, reductions in training and staff shortages.

Staff shortages are detrimental for this work environment, and the health charity the Kings Fund states that staff shortages, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic, have worsened the inequalities faced by black and ethnic minority communities.

Dr Udenze offered a few tips that are beneficial for those suffering with their mental health:

  • Find a healthcare worker you can relate to and try and stick with them

  • Make a list of topics you’d like to discuss before your appointment

Urban Kapital will be hosting a weekly segment called ‘Mental Health Monday’s’. This segment will allow further discussion on BAME communities and mental health.


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