Black Lives Matter: Current Situation and Black Mental Health

I am sure we are all aware by now of the current situation the world is facing. The unjust murder of African-American citizen George Floyd by police officers in the US has sparked a state of civil unrest, leading to protests and riots taking place all over the world to push for change when it comes to the oppression and discriminatory treatment of black lives everywhere. The noise being made in support of the Black Lives Matter movement has never been louder, and should not quieten down until action has been taken by both US and UK governments to help put an end to racism-fuelled violence and abuse.

I can understand that many allies of this movement may be unable to join in with the protests taking place outside for various reasons, but this is not the only way that you can take action. All of us have a part to play in eradicating racism from this world. There is so much more you can do than just sharing a blank, black square on social media. Take the two minutes to sign any petition you come across, donate to anti-racist organisations who are working to improve the lives of the black community, research and educate yourself and then others on both the past and present suffering people have gone through purely because of the colour of their skin. Call out racist friends, family members and strangers. That single post on Instagram is a feeble attempt at solidarity – you can do better. We can all do better.

A great way you can help back the Black Lives Matter movement and incite change to help save and improve the lives of innocent people is writing to your MP. If enough of us get in contact to raise concern and request action to be taken on a situation, it will push them towards a parlimentary discussion. There is so much that the UK can do, both to help black Americans and our own black citizens. Our country must stop the exports of weapons used by the US to control riots and protests such as harmful rubber bullets and anti-crowd gas, as well as urge the government to condemn the Trump administration for the forceful treatment of protesters.

We must remind those in positions of power that Britain is not innocent. Our own country experiences a disproportionate use of force by police against black people, as well as racial discrimination within UK housing and the bias against minorities in police stop and search. If you are unsure on who your MP is, or do not know their details for getting your letter or email across, you can find everything you need to know at this website: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mps/

Graphic by Mia Rae Smith – available to purchase in t-shirt form. All proceeds will be going towards anti-racism organisations. Order here now!

One of the main topics that I discuss through my writing is mental health. I have always been a huge advocate for giving those who suffer with their mental wellbeing the help that they need and deserve. One thing that I have not ever fully educated myself on though, is black mental health. That is, until now.

In the UK, black people are more likely than white people to be detained under the Mental Health act or encounter inpatient mental health services. Why is no one talking about this?

Growing research suggests that those exposed to racism are more likely to suffer from illnesses such as depression and psychosis. The society that we are in, one that is dominated by white supremacy and privilege, has caused social and economic inequalities that cause the black community to be faced with so many unfair disadvantages – these disadvantages include higher rates of unemployement, unequal pay, high rates of poverty and homelessness. These are all risk factors that can lead to the development of mental health problems.

There is concern over the unmet mental health needs of the BAME community in both the criminal and youth justice systems and that needs to change. It has been found that a BAME individual is less likely to have mental health problems diagnosed upon entry to the justice system compared to a white individual. These are facts that I am only just learning, and although I am glad I now know so that I can help spread awareness, I am angry – you should be too.

The week after George Floyd’s murder was filled with so much noise backing the Black Lives Matter movement, but what concerns me is everyone going back to normal and letting this momentum die down. Do not stop tweeting. Do not stop donating, signing, writing, protesting, educating. Do not stop until change is made.

Black lives will always matter.


Resources

Research:

Mental Health Foundation

Black Spaces by The Mental Health Foundation

Young Minds

Mind

Charities:

Black Thrive

Black Minds Matter

Stop Hate UK

Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust


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