Cultivating BIPOC Mental Health and Wellness
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.