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“Just do it already”- Narrowing inequalities gap in mental health for Black people

Written by Natalie Creary (Director, Black Thrive) and Jacqui Dyer, MBE (Chair, Black Thrive & Director Black Thrive Global)

If we were asked how to describe the year so far, we are lost for words. Most would agree that at the very least it has been surreal; the COVID-19 pandemic, death of George Floyd, rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement globally and just general chaos popping up here and there. If it hasn’t taken its toll on you, then we really need to talk and share some tips.

As we write this blog to mark World Mental Health Day 2020, we reflect on the last ten months, and it stirs mixed feelings for both of us. The increased awareness of structural racism has undoubtedly helped to push an agenda that the Black Thrive team has been working on for many years. Our partners have made commitments and invested in solutions that aim to support Black communities to thrive, improve their access to mental health services and to receive the services they need to support their recovery. We are excited to be codesigning the Living Well Network Alliance’s peer support and advocacy service with Black communities locally.

Nationally we have seen a shift too. Jacqui’s work on the Mental Health Act Review has been integral in pushing the Patient and Race Equality Framework a concept that she has been driving for many years, but the system was not ready to receive it.

Through this work, we hope to develop a blueprint that will support services to gain a better insight into our experiences and to be better equipped at responding. This will not be achieved without placing the voices of Black people at the centre and creating platforms for Black communities to take the lead on delivering solutions.

We are encouraged by the changes we are seeing in the system. The question as to whether these movements are satisfactory still needs to be debated. The challenge of delivering equity in mental health outcomes for Black people may not be easy, but we don’t believe it is insurmountable. When faced with barriers, it is essential to have hope, and we are committed to using our power, privilege and agency to continue to advocate on behalf of our community and to create space for them to lead.

We have big ambitions for this work. We want Black people wherever they reside to thrive. We are calling on Black people and our allies locally, nationally and globally to work with us to narrow the inequities gap for our community. If you have the time, energy and will to co-create a better future with Black communities get in touch with us and tell us how you can help hello@blackthrive.org.uk

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