Mental health kit looks to support BAME staff

A new toolkit aimed at supporting workers from a Black or Minority Ethnic (BAME) background has been launched as studies show the pressure on BAME staff is increasing.

The City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA), the community for mentally healthy businesses, has launched the Mental Health and Race Toolkit to help businesses to protect and support the positive mental health of staff who are Black or from a Minority Ethnic background.

Poppy Jaman, CEO of the CMHA said: “People who are Black or from a Minority Ethnic background have been the most impacted by inequality and racism, often since childhood. And within the last year they have also been affected by triggering conversations following George Floyd’s tragic death, and a disproportionate COVID-19 impact. It’s unsurprising that a growing body of research tells us that these communities are living with a higher incidence of poor mental health.

“Over the last six months, we have seen an incredible outpouring of support and commitment to action from the business world to address racial disparity. Our hope is that this Toolkit will help organisations to build on this commitment, take action and better protect, support and create positive mental health of employees who are Black or from a Minority Ethnic background. Let’s seize the opportunity for compassionate dialogue and creating change for good.”

This toolkit, which draws on the knowledge of experts and the experience of leading businesses, spells out four strategic actions that every workplace should take:

  • Challenge all forms of racism in the workplace – ensuring a workplace is free of racism and discrimination, and actively anti-racist, is crucial to the wellbeing of employees.
  • Build inclusive and representative mental health and wellbeing support   – mental health and wellbeing initiatives should be inclusive, representative and effective in reaching and supporting people from all communities.
  • Allocate Board level responsibility – Significant and sustained change in workplace culture will require leaders to drive the change forward and be held accountable.
  • Measure progress – Measurement and collection of data will be key for tracking what does and doesn’t work, both guiding future thinking and sustaining change.

The toolkit includes practical suggestions for achieving the strategic actions, as well as examples of what leading businesses are already doing to build mentally healthy workplaces that promote a sense of belonging for their people, whatever their race. This includes details of Lloyds Banking Group’s Race Action Plan, Oliver Wyman’s Allyship programme and PwC’s representative mental health awareness campaign.

Beth Robotham Executive Director, Goldman Sachs, and Deputy Chair of City Mental Health Alliance said: “People might hesitate to explore race, ethnicity and mental health through fear of making a mistake or feeling intimidated by the scale of the work needed. But we cannot let this stand in our way.

“Much like the journey that many business leaders have been on together to talk more openly about our mental health, commitment and bravery is again needed to make progress through education, collaboration and action. This guide, which pools the insight and experience of the CMHA business community, will help all organisations on this journey.”

Henrietta Jowitt, Director General of the CBI on behalf of Change the Race Ratio campaign added: “The ambition of our Change The Race Ratio campaign is to accelerate racial diversity in business. This is not just a numbers game but requires a shift in workplace culture.  It will only be possible to achieve true racial diversity if all workplaces are supportive, psychologically safe and promote a sense of belonging for people who are Black and from Minority Ethnic backgrounds. This Mental Health and Race Toolkit from the CMHA will help workplaces to deliver on this culture shift, and we very much welcome its launch.”