Anti-racism: our journey

Black people are four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than White people, and are over-represented as clients in many of our services.

Many of those who are affected by mental illness are also affected by stigma and discrimination. While circumstances have improved in recent years, this is largely restricted to depression and anxiety; complex conditions such as schizophrenia still often produce a reaction of fear and intolerance. Economic disadvantage and isolation – also endemic in minoritised communities – exacerbate this toxic combination.

The murder of George Floyd brought this challenge into sharp relief for us, and led to some overdue, difficult, and honest conversations. We had to accept that – though we’ve been aware of the issues, and have spoken out about them – we haven’t taken as much concrete action as we could have done. If we know that the people we serve have been failed by society for years before we meet them, it becomes even more vital that we don’t also let them down.

These posts will help us in move forward on two tracks – both internally, in terms of organisational change, but also providing us with more authority to speak externally and advocate for authentic change. You will have the authority to drive transformation, and the assurance that you are working with the grain of the whole organisation. We all see the positive connection between better policy, a stronger culture, and more effective operations.

Here’s a snapshot of what we believe success will look like. First, the programme of anti-racism work is making progress, and our organisation better understands and reflects the diversity of what we do. Second, people are receiving the care and support they need quickly, at high quality and close to home. And third, the social model of mental ill health is understood at all levels, and by all partners, so that issues such as homelessness and debt are being addressed at the same time as clinical or therapeutic support.

We recognise the pressures that are experienced by those working in health and social care, and we emphatically don’t want this programme of change to be seen as an extra burden. The people appointed to these roles will be instinctively collaborative, appreciative and committed to co-production, with the skill to communicate the message that “..this can help you do your job better, and we can achieve it together.”