A Black Mental Health discussion took place on Monday 17th October from 6pm in the History Room of the Student Union and opened the Black History Month celebration.
The hour and a half interactive open dialogue focused on the misdiagnosis of mental health within the black community, and the lack of openness surrounding mental health discussion.
Led by Racial Equalities Officer Safiya Robinson and Feminist Society President Fope Olaleye, participants were encouraged to give their take on the underrepresentation of black people suffering from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression in the media, and the issues that can arise from this.
Also discussed was the stigma and dangers of the ‘strong black woman’ trope, as well as many topical issues such as police brutality towards the black community, and the impact sharing images of black people shot by police can have on people’s mental health. Participants looked at articles to support and challenge their views and encourage discussion on relating topics. Cheryl Corley’s article “Coping While Black: A season of traumatic news takes a dramatic toll” was also a talking point. It raised and encouraged debates on if racism can be considered a form of trauma, and the generational implications of previous family members and communities suffering from mental health issues.
“The discussion allowed us to view mental health and the apparatus to help treat it in a new way. Through friendly discussion we came to the realisation that current treatments perhaps haven’t yet been shaped to fit the needs of a singular patient”, said second year Politics student George. “I found it particularly interesting considering how experience can define the parameters of our illnesses. Structural racism can still greatly shape mental health conditions, and the lack of understanding of this can mean people still don’t get correctly treated.”
As part of Black History month, celebrated both at the University and across the country, this talk was one of many that aim to foreground and bring to light issues black people face today. A Candlelight Vigil will be held as the final event on the 31st October for all victims of police brutality.