Working together to ensure young people from racialised communities can access appropriate mental health support

10 May 2021

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Existing systemic inequalities have driven the disproportionately damaging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on young people’s mental wellbeing and healthcare from racialised communities. Change needs to happen.

UK Youth, Centre for Mental Health and The Diana Award are excited to announce a new collaboration that aims to reimagine mental health support for young people from racialised communities.

Collectively we recognised the need for change to create culturally competent mental health services that can meet the needs of young people from racialised communities.  

The project will be led by young people aged 16-25 with lived experience of mental health issues and racial injustices and has been made possible thanks to £650,000 of funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

When young people from racialised communities do access support, it’s often not fit for purpose. The practitioners working with young people often lack cultural competence: the awareness, skills and expertise required.

This can create more profound trauma for the young person, especially if they are expected to minimise or dismiss their own lived experience of racism. During the traumatic year of the Covid-19 pandemic, these experiences have been magnified among young people whose communities have been affected disproportionately by the virus, by job loss, educational disadvantage, and lockdown policing.

This programme will give young people from racialised communities a seat at the table and an opportunity to reimagine and affect change within mental health support.

The partnership brings together the expertise, insight and reach required to drive forward change. We will be led by, and share power with, young people. The name, design and direction of the programme will be co-created alongside young people; our network of Changemakers.

Recruitment for Changemakers will begin over the Summer of 2021. From the offset, we’ll build their capacity to lead change through a transformational personal development journey, culminating in youth-led social action projects that create tangible, impactful outputs to bring about lasting change in mental health promotion, protection and provision. Changemakers may decide to play a fundamental part in:

The collaboration has been awarded £650,000 through the Postcode Recovery Fund thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, a fund created to support charities in developing innovative solutions that address the many issues affecting people society recovers from the effects of the pandemic.

Ndidi Okezie, CEO, UK Youth, said, Over the past year, there has been a real social awakening to the responsibilities we all have to understand the experiences of others better. Both race and mental health have been firmly placed ‘on the agenda’ of critical issues; in very concrete ways. But there is still inadequate support for young people’s mental health, particularly from communities of colour.

The lived experiences and diverse cultural backgrounds of young people need to inform the services they access. Here’s where the Changemakers are required, to give young people from racialised communities a meaningful seat at the table.”

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