As mental health becomes more talked about, it’s important we also talk about Black mental health, especially in times like these when we are seeing a lot of public discussion about systemic racism.
In the UK, Black British people are more likely to be diagnosed with psychosis, to encounter inpatient mental health services and to be detained under the Mental Health Act than white people – these are things we need to talk about.
Racism is damaging to mental health
As the protests in the USA and UK continue to grow, it is important to think about how these issues affect your mental health. It is possible that you find yourself feeling under tremendous pressure to share your voice. Or you feel like you are under attack as people that share your skin colour fight for social justice. Or maybe, like me, the news cycle just has an overall negative effect on your mental health and you feel as if anything you say will have very little effect on the outcome of the situation.
The thing is, being Black is an important part of our identity and character. It is important because there is a shared struggle and a shared understanding of how the world operates for us, whether it is years of microaggressions, an unjust justice system or economic inequalities. All of which can increase the risk of developing mental health issues.
Things that I find helpful
Things may feel bleak, but here are some tips that I find helpful:
- If you need to, do not be afraid to go on a social media detox - your mental health is important.
- If you want to post something but are feeling under pressure, you could keep it simple and express how you feel in one or two sentences. A clear and simple message from the heart is far better than reposting everything you see because you feel under pressure.
- Like the first point, if you feel you need it, take time for some self-care. Doing something for yourself - e.g. reading a book, playing a video game, watching some TV – is really important.
Lastly, I think it is important to remember how far we have come in the last century, both in the fight for racial equality and in mental health awareness. 50 years ago, this blog post simply would not have been possible. So, looking at the future it is important that we realise things will continue to improve and we will all rise to whatever challenges we face.
Where to get help
Have a look at our page on racism and mental health for more information on how experiencing racism can affect your mental health, and where you can go for support.