The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’; which encourages us to get behind the protection of everyone’s mental health as a basic universal human right for all.
Mental health is something we all have, and throughout our lives, we may all experience fluctuations of good and poor mental health. Unfortunately, not all of us who end up struggling with poor mental health have equal access to adequate mental health care or community inclusion, instead facing certain barriers that make it difficult to maintain well-being and recover good mental health.
Poor mental health does not discriminate, any one of us can experience poor mental health, regardless of our background, but groups that are at high risk of experiencing mental ill health are those that experience oppression, discrimination, and come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Sadly, it is these groups that experience the greatest barriers to support, putting them at further risk of declining mental health and serious mental health difficulties.
Children from the poorest 20% of households are more likely to have serious mental health difficulties.
Centre for Mental Health Commission to equality
People who identify as LGBTQ+ report higher rates of mental health problems and lower wellbeing.
Centre for Mental Health Commission to equality
Many Black African and Black Caribbean people, particularly men, do not have access to psychological treatment at an early stage of their mental health problem.
People from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities are at higher risk of developing a mental health problem in adulthood. But they are less likely to receive support for their mental health.
Black people were more than 4x more likely than White people to be detained under the Mental Health Act.
It is estimated 46% of young transgender people think of suicide.
What can we do?
We can aim to raise awareness around mental health and educate ourselves and others on the determinants that negatively impact mental health (discrimination, abuse, racism, homophobia, poverty, etc.) and how paradoxically, these marginalised groups can then face difficulty in accessing support and services due to the inequalities in society.
Whilst advocating for change and spreading awareness we should always be mindful of using inclusive language, e.g. the correct race and ethnicity terminology.
Reach out and offer support
Whilst reaching out to and supporting someone who’s mental health we are concerned about, we should always maintain a person-centred approach:
We should be aware of a person’s belief systems and cultural perspectives and be respectful of them. Consider how these belief systems may influence accessing mental health support.
Communicate with inclusive language and use the person’s correct pronouns.
Accept the person's feelings as they are describing them. We may not have shared the same experiences as the person we are supporting (for example if you are a White person supporting someone who is experiencing racism), however, we should seek to understand how they are feeling, and what this means for them.
Take everything that the person is telling you seriously and do not downplay or minimise their experiences or emotions.
Someone who has had negative experiences with accessing services, e.g. long waiting lists, lack of understanding, lack of trust, unsupportive professionals, or who has known someone else who has received poor treatment; may be reluctant to attempt to access help. Be patient with the individual, listen and validate their experiences, offer reassurance, and inform them how to seek help when they are ready.
Set aside your own perceptions, opinions, and views of the world and listen from a place of neutrality and empathy.
Access Mental Health Training
Accessing mental health courses such as Mental Health First Aid (scroll down) will teach you how to identify, understand, and help someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue.
Remember that everyone is entitled to experience good mental health and access the help that can aid in the recovery from poor mental health.
Mental Health Awareness Zine
Click on the image below to view/download our Mental Health Awareness zine.
Square breathing is a simple relaxation technique that can help reset your breath and return to it’s normal rhythm. This can be done anywhere and anytime.
Tonic Rider - Mental Health First Aid
Not everyone will experience mental illness, but everyone will have periods of time when they struggle with their mental wellbeing, just as we have physical health issues from time to time. This course will train you as a MHFAider®.
Delivered over four online live sessions, this course will teaching you the knowledge and skills to spot signs of people experiencing poor mental health, be confident to start a conversation, and signpost a person to appropriate support.
For more information and how to register for this course click here.