Cultivating BIPOC Mental Health and Wellness

Given that July marks BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to spotlight the connection between racial equity and mental health inclusion in this month’s bci blog. 

As Dr. Komal Bhasin, bci’s Mental Health Expert-in-Residence, often shares in her work, the research on race/ethnoculture and mental health is at best limited, and at worst both limited, and heavily flawed. That said, we know that those from Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities, in particular, and other communities of color, experience poorer health overall, tied back to social and structural injustices, and inequities. For example*: 


  • People who identify as BIPOC are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to seek out treatment, more likely to receive low or poor quality of care, and more likely to end services early
  • Black Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population
  • Approximately 23% of Indigenous Americans live with a mental illness
  • People who identify as belonging to two or more races are more likely than all other racial/ethnocultural groups to have reported experiences with mental illness, followed by Indigenous Americans
  • Indigenous Americans have the highest rates of post-traumatic stress disorder than any other racial/ethnocultural groups
  • Compared with white people with the same symptoms, Black people are more frequently diagnosed with schizophrenia, and less frequently diagnosed with mood disorders


We also know that while diagnoses for mental illnesses appear to be similar across racial/ethnocultural groups, access to essential mental health care and the quality of the care and support that is provided, substantially differs due to racial inequities. In other words, BIPOC people experience more serious mental health impacts as a result of racial inequities.

So what can leaders do to ensure that these racial inequities aren’t carried over into their workplace mental health inclusion efforts?

First, organizations must continue to focus on disrupting biases around mental health, and start meaningful and inclusive conversations around mental health, and in particular, BIPOC mental health. (Download bci’s free tip sheet on this topic here).

Second, organizations must focus on centering racial equity and BIPOC mental health in any discourse about mental health inclusion. In other words, we must move beyond lip service and viewing the mental health of BIPOC professionals as an individual experience, and instead focus on understanding that BIPOC mental health must be viewed in a broader societal, and intersectional context.

And finally, as we think about mental health inclusion, organizations must situate this in the context of individual and communal healing. One example we like to refer to at bci is micro-inequities. Micro-inequities are often seen as individual acts or isolated instances that are subjectively experienced, but it’s important to view microaggressions as an articulation of power or supremacy that operates at the larger structural, and institutional levels. Similarly, when it comes to BIPOC mental health, we need to be thinking about how inequities permeate societal systems and structures, as well as how these inequities can affect individuals.

As a leader, it’s critical that you focus on BIPOC mental health as part of your overall mental health inclusion training if you want to truly cultivate racial equity in your workplace culture, and support your BIPOC colleagues.

I also wanted to share a few important points relating to the overlap between mental health, wellness, and psychological safety for BIPOC professionals. Here’s a few resources to consider:


  • Proactively create a plan for managing your mental health — this video has insights on how and why you want to do this
  • Dig deep into healing from racialized trauma — I’ve had meaningful conversations with a range of experts on this important topic. Check out this playlist on YouTube to learn about helpful tools for your healing journey
  • Continue to focus on self-care — download my free worksheet on how to create a personalized self-care strategy here and check out this curated playlist on YouTube on how to make this happen


Finally, for both leaders and BIPOC professionals, I talk about how we can manage our mental health and heal from racialized trauma in my new bestselling book We’ve Got This: Unlocking the Beauty of Belonging. You can order it here:


Together, let’s always commit to being intersectional in how we address mental health and wellness, especially through a racialized lens.

Reach out to the bci team here to learn more about our range of cutting-edge mental health inclusion programming, including dedicated programming for BIPOC mental health inclusion. 

If you’re looking for more mental health inclusion resources, you can download bci’s free tip sheets here.

*All data points are from Mental Health America, the American Psychiatric Association, and the Jefferson Center for Mental Health.

Dr. Komal Bhasin, MSW, MHSc, DocSocSci

Komal is bci’s Senior DEI Consultant and Mental Health Expert-in-Residence and an accomplished DEI facilitator, coach, and strategist. Komal has over 20 years of experience in providing strategic and advisory guidance and program development across a range of sectors, with a particular concentration in mental health and racial inclusion. Komal is also the founder of Insayva Inc., a social enterprise focused on providing accessible DEI and health equity support to charities and non-profit organizations.

Komal has extensive experience in creating and delivering programming in a range of DEI areas, including unconscious bias, cultural competence, mental health inclusion, psychological safety, and allyship. She is passionate about driving transformational change in workplaces and has worked closely with bci clients — corporations, professional services firms, health care providers, and educational institutions — to embed cultures of DEI within their organizations.

Komal has provided one-on-one inclusion coaching to hundreds of senior leaders and brings a unique approach that is informed by her background as a therapist. She is able to expertly handle sensitive conversations and situations and works with leaders to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to advance racial/ethnocultural, gender, and mental health-related equity across teams and organizations. Komal also offers a performance coaching program designed specifically for BIPOC leaders. This program aims to help BIPOC leaders harness their place, position, and identity to thrive in the workplace and beyond. Komal is a qualified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI).

As bci’s Mental Health Expert-in-Residence, Komal offers tremendous expertise around workplace mental health. As a doctoral trained mental health clinician, certified health executive, and registered social worker, Komal has assisted organizations looking to advance employee mental health inclusion and well-being through offering programming on inclusive dialogue, anti-stigma, burnout prevention, psychological safety, resilience, and self-care. Komal is committed to advancing mental health and wellness across the life course; she currently serves on the board of the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario and previously served on the board of Children’s Mental Health Ontario and the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

When Komal is not working, you’ll find her painting, cooking or snuggling with her cat.

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