A new programme from charity UK Youth offers people from racialised communities a chance to influence mental health policy
The coronavirus pandemic has hit us all in some way, but to assume we’ve all been on the same journey wouldn’t be accurate. We’re not all in the same boat, we’re in our own boats sailing through the same storm, and some of those boats are more sturdy than others.
Systemic inequalities have seen the mental health of young people from racialised communities (communities experiencing racial inequality) disproportionately affected. Professionals in the mental health field can lack understanding and awareness when it comes to lived experiences of racism, making it difficult for them to support these communities.
In a bid to reimagine this support, charity UK Youth has partnered with the Centre for Mental Health and The Diana Award to create the Young Changemakers programme. Made possible by the £650,000 funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the programme will be recruiting young Black and Black-mixed people (aged 16-25) who have lived experience of mental health problems and racial injustice.
The Changemakers will then have the chance to make changes in mental health support by influencing policies, offering peer to peer support, changing public attitudes and, crucially, upskilling practitioners on the frontline.
Supporting and leading the Changemakers will be a group of ‘Co-Producers’ who will offer ideas and insight. Speaking about why she decided to get involved as a Co-Producer, Lola highlights the need for Black voices to be heard.
“I want to ensure that Black voices are amplified on the topic of our own mental health. This programme is important as it provides young Black people with a chance to discuss and plan actions for improving our own mental health in changing the way services are delivered. With all the cuts to youth services, our voices have been lost and disregarded but this programme will provide the space for changemakers to express their concerns and solutions to identify the problems.”
The Co-Producers will be there to support changemakers, helping them make a real impact in the promotion, protection and provision of mental health. Recruitment for the Young Changemakers programme has just begun and if you’d like to be considered, you can learn more about the role and apply at UK Youth.
CEO of UK Youth, Ndidi Okezie commented that there’s been a real social awakening over the last year in regards to the responsibilities we all have to understand each other better.
“Both race and mental health have been firmly placed on the agenda of critical issues; in very concrete ways. But there is still inadequate support for young people’s mental health, particularly from communities of colour.
“The lived experiences and diverse cultural backgrounds of young people need to inform the services they access. Here’s where the Changemakers are required, to give young people from racialised communities a meaningful seat at the table. I’d like to thanks the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for their support. Without them, this programme would not have been possible.”