We can all experience difficult times with our mental health, whatever our backgrounds or what our lives are like. But there are some things that can make facing mental health challenges more difficult, or more likely:
A different kind of childhood
A child with a chronic health condition, a disability, or sensory needs may find that people are less sure of how to look after them, and the care that we should all receive as children may not always be provided.
The same goes for a child in a family of low income where the parental figure(s) are often absent while in work, or exhausted from long hours when they are home. This is something that tends to more often affect families from cultural backgrounds that are a minority in the UK, often because of barriers presented by society.
Feeling or being seen and treated as ‘different’ by those around us
People from groups that are in the minority are often treated differently – whether that’s their cultural background, sexual or gender identity, a disability, or anything that marks them out from their peers.
This experience alone can be really difficult to deal with, even when no harm was intended. The power to determine our identity is really important to us as humans, and when society makes this harder for us, it can have a negative impact. Being seen as ‘different’ can also make it harder to find or access appropriate mental health support.
Equality is good for all of us, even people that aren’t considered to be in a minority group, because it encourages a society that cares for and welcomes all.
The power of community
Finding a community that you resonate with is an important aspect of healing. It can be frustrating and lonely if we can’t find a community that we can identify or be our true selves with. It can lead to a feeling of loneliness or of not being accepted, which can feel even worse if we also rarely see ourselves represented in the culture around us. This is particularly important if we are considered to be part of a minority group due to our ethnicity, religion or sexuality.
Resources and links to find specific support and communities
BAME and mental health | Mental Health Foundation – a wordier but also more complete overview on the mental health concerns for various minority groups
BAME Groups / Organisations in Wales (eyst.org.uk) – a directory of support services in Wales who are actively inclusive of diverse communities and/or specialise in supporting specific issues BAME people may experience
Layout 1 (raceequalityfoundation.org.uk) – the race equality foundation’s report on racial disparities in mental health (2019)
Boloh – the Black and Asian family Covid-19 Helpline | BAME Helpline (barnardos.org.uk) – info on what it says on the tin, by Bernado’s, nationwide
Mental health and being LGBTQ+ (youngminds.org.uk) – brief page written by an LGBTQIA+ young person about their experience of how their sexuality and mental health are related
Looking after my mental health while questioning my sexuality (youngminds.org.uk) – a helpful blog by a young person about questioning their sexuality and the role of looking after their emotional wellbeing while facing this question
MindOut | Mental Health Charity for LGBTQ community – excellent website for support, finding a community, and more if you are part of the LGBTQIA++ community
Galop – The LGBT+ anti-violence charity – a charity dedicated to work against violent hate crimes towards LGBTQIA+ people, including specifically young people
Our Stories – Being Transgender – Platfform4YP – a blog on trans matters on P4YP
Long-term conditions and mental health Chris Naylor February 2012 (kingsfund.org.uk) – a rather long report on ‘co-morbidity’- which means when two (or more) health needs (mental or physical or both) are experienced by one person. It goes into finances and so forth, but in the first part also covers how frequently and why this may happen