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Young Changemakers tackling mental health inequalities in racialised communities

Dr Huong Le, Ashleigh Onabajo, Pleasant Adesiyan, Tarriq Jones and Elliot Busari

26 April 2022

It is well documented that people from racialised communities face inequalities in mental health. Young Changemakers is a programme created by UK Youth, The Diana Award and Centre for Mental Health to equip young people with the tools to produce youth-led social action projects aimed at tackling these mental health inequalities. This is a three-year programme funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and Comic Relief to support mental health in young people from racialised communities.

A voice for change highlights some of the issues affecting the mental health of young people from racialised communities and their access to support. It finds that young people from racialised communities often do not trust mental health services, face higher levels of stigma and are at greater risk of accessing mental health support through involuntary or coercive routes.

The key issues identified as having an impact on young people from racialised communities’ mental health are:

  • Negative perceptions towards mental health support and care
  • Limited and involuntary pathways to mental health services
  • Lack of mental health awareness
  • Lack of culturally appropriate support
  • Mental health stigma.

The Young Changemakers programme is seeking to address this through social action strands aimed at influencing policy, engaging frontline practitioners, changing public attitudes, and peer support. The briefing explores how the Young Changemakers have developed social action projects to address some of these issues:

  • Team Not So Micro – Campaigning to include microaggression training as a mandatory part of teacher training
  • Team Engage – Creating culturally sensitive digital resources for GPs
  • Team Verity – Producing a podcast featuring mental health professionals and young people with lived experience
  • Team Change – Delivering creative workshops about mental health specifically targeting young Black people.

This briefing 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. It highlights the need for further research and supporting resources which are tailored to young people from racialised communities, in order to narrow the racial inequality gaps within the mental health system.

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