Young Black people’s mental health has been overlooked and undervalued for too long, says a new report published by Centre for Mental Health.
A voice for change is produced jointly with a group of Young Changemakers who are leading four social action projects as part of an initiative created by UK Youth, The Diana Award and Centre for Mental Health.
A voice for change reviews evidence about the mental health of young people from racialised communities in the UK and what would help to make a difference. It finds that young people from racialised communities do not trust mental health services, face higher levels of stigma and are at greater risk of coercion.
A voice for change says that systemic change is needed to improve mental health among young people from racialised communities. This is vital to address stark inequalities and systematic racism in both the health and education systems.
The four social action projects include Team Not So Micro, which is campaigning for teachers’ education to include microaggression training, and Team Engage, which is creating culturally sensitive digital resources for GPs. Team Verity is producing a podcast to improve public and professional understanding about mental health. And Team Change is developing creative workshops to give young Black people a safe space to discuss mental health.
A voice for change calls for public health initiatives to reduce stigma and increase mental health awareness among young people from racialised communities, for antiracism training to be included in formal qualifications in both health and education, and for young people to have a seat at the table when decisions are being made about mental health programmes and services.
Ashleigh Onabajo, a co-author of the briefing and a Young Changemaker, said: “I joined the Young Changemakers programme because I’m passionate about improvements to mental health, and I believe that, when given a platform, anyone can be capable of bringing about change. The work everyone has been doing has been inspiring, and will help improve mental health services for the next generation, and I believe this briefing reflects that.”
Pleasant Adesiyan, a Young Changemaker and co-author, said: “I’m honoured to have worked with such an amazing group of people. Partaking in research with like-minded people, alongside the guidance from Centre for Mental Health was something I greatly enjoyed.”