Mental health in the workplace is a vital issue for all employers and employees. But there’s nuance, here. Issues and fixes that may apply to one group may not apply to every group. And therefore, it’s important to have a firm understanding of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) mental health.
BAME and mental health is a very complex issue, which we couldn’t hope to cover completely in a blog article. But we’ve put together a few simple points you can incorporate into your own diversity strategy—and a great, free resource for you to download and distribute. The link is below, but do read this article first.
Firstly, understanding the term and who it involves is essential. The term makes up the following groups of people:
- Black: Caribbean, African and any other black background.
- Asian: Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese and any other Asian background.
- and Minority Ethnic: Arab and any other ethnic backgrounds.
It is important that each group will face their own unique challenges towards health and wellbeing. Despite being an umbrella term, the problems that lie beneath are not.
The decision to put these groups of people under an umbrella term is simply because of health inequalities. Members of these communities suffer more from health and wellbeing issues and are statistically at higher risk.
So, you should ensure the wellbeing and mental health support reflects and acknowledges this.
BAME mental health statistics in the UK
A sobering statistic—one in four black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) with mental health problems will keep these issues to themselves.
There are several potential reasons for this. Everyone is different, and everyone’s story is different, but common threads are:
- People of a minority ethnic background may feel that no-one understands their experiences of mental health and concerns
- They may feel marginalised by the systems set up to help mental health While they absolutely shouldn’t be, sometimes racism and discrimination appear in even healthcare
- Cultural differences may result in mental health discussion being shunned or seen as something to disregard
50% of people of a BAME background, according to Mind, don’t speak about mental health as they don’t want to place a burden on others—despite 84% of people asked saying they feel good about themselves when helping someone they care about.
And the statistics worsen when coronavirus is introduced to the mix. 30% BAME of people said problems with housing made their mental health worse during the pandemic, with 61% reporting employment worries. This is 10% more than white people in the same situation. Clearly, these BAME mental health statistics are showing a disproportionate effect. What can you do as an employer to help?
Look specifically at the experiences of BAME people
You can’t begin to understand unless you know. It’s impossible to truly work on your own acceptance of the issues of others, unless you seek out guidance on those experiences.
The best way to gain that knowledge is to ask. Obviously, this needs to be done in a sensitive and controlled manner. But conversations with BAME staff and stories of their experiences can be pretty eye-opening. And once you begin to understand the struggles faced by the BAME population, you’ll begin to understand that asking for help with mental health isn’t necessarily so easy.
Engage with diversity, and culturally appropriate advocacy
Much of the time, mental health provision is a ‘one and done’ affair, with guidance, advice and advocacy put into place and left alone. It’s very much a reactive solution.
While this might work for the majority, people of a BAME background may find it difficult to engage with something not suited to their cultural needs.
This isn’t to say that you need to place an equal number of BAME advisors and advocates as others in your organisation. It means that you need to embrace diversity and ensure that the minority voices in your care are heard, and responded to, with just as much care and attention as any other.
Encourage a culture of openness at work. Whatever concerns anyone may have, make sure they can speak about them openly, with no shame, worry or fear of recrimination.
Provide ways for everyone—BAME people especially—to access help, guidance, advice and counselling on the topics that affect them specifically and deeply. An employee assistance programme is perfect for this.
And most of all, listen. The voices of the marginalised are often the quietest, even though they have more—and more important—things to say. Amplify those voices, listen to their needs, and make sure to spread those messages.
Free downloadable resource
All the above may sound like a lot of work. And it is, but diversity, equality and inclusivity are certainly worth striving for.
We’ve produced a simple, easy to follow one-page guide to better understanding and supporting BAME colleagues in the workplace, with mental health and any other issue they may be facing. Just click the link, and it’s yours. Print out, distribute it, and improve your organisation’s reputation as a caring employer overnight!
Support your employees with Health assured
Let’s talk about how Health Assured’s EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) can support you and your business. With a huge number of certified counsellors and wellbeing specialists, we can help create a financial wellbeing strategy for your employees.
With our EAP, you get access to our counsellors 24/7, 365m and our mental, physical and financial wellbeing resources.
We also have a brilliant new mental, physical and financial wellbeing app. It provides proactive wellbeing tools and engaging features to enhance our existing services. We’ve built the app’s features from the ground up to improve the user’s mental, physical and financial health by using personal metrics, personalised content and four-week plans to set goals and celebrate achievements.
Arrange a call back from a workplace wellbeing expert today on 0844 891 0352