World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day 2023 highlights that mental health is a universal human right. As part of that, we want to recognise some of the inequalities around mental health. We’re also celebrating our sisters this Black History Month – as we aim to do year-round – and wanted to share some of the challenges and intersectional experiences many of us face. Acknowledging these inequalities is a key part of celebrating the achievements and contributions of our Black communities.
According to Mind, ‘Black men are far more likely than others to be diagnosed with severe mental health problems. They’re also more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.’ Black women are also more likely than white women to experience common mental health problems.
We know that some of the things that can affect the mental health of Black people are:
- Racism and discrimination
- Social and economic inequalities
- Mental health stigma
Many things need to change in order to address these inequalities.
How does volunteering help?
Volunteering is one of the ways that people can work together to address these root issues, support each other, and improve their mental health. As a volunteer centre, we share volunteer opportunities from hundreds of local organisations which work to tackle discrimination, reduce social and economic inequalities, and fight mental health stigma.
Here are just a few ways you can get involved:
- Volunteer with Newington Green Alliance, helping bring people together to fight bias and build compassion
- Mentor a young person with African Community School, improving school engagement and helping with their plans for the future
- Become an LGBTQ+ Person of Colour Youth Mentor, provide support and are role models to the young people with East London Out Project
- Join Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation’s volunteer team and help with lunch service, assist with activities, and spend time with members
- Support the mental health of young Black men: IRIE Mind (a mental health initiative run by and for the African-Caribbean community in Hackney) has an opportunity for young Black men to help build each other up
- Stand up against Hate Crimes as a Hackney Hate Crime Champion
Volunteering and mental health
As part of celebrating our sisters, we wanted to share what one of our volunteers had to say about her experience. Portuia, shared how volunteering has supported her wellbeing when she was experiencing mental health issues.
‘Volunteering helps when you experience mental health problems. You meet people and you’re supporting them but they’re also supporting you. You might have a laugh – so it’s beneficial to you in many ways.
It boosts your confidence in the workplace, it gets you out, interacting with people. I’ve enjoyed it and I’m grateful for it. I always recommend volunteering. It’s conducive to good mental health, it’s beneficial to society, and it gets everything moving in the way it should be. People giving, receiving – it just works out. You get valuable work experience, develop new skills, hone in on skills you’ve already got. It’s a confidence boost. I’m grateful that I was referred to Step Up, it’s put me in the right direction.’
Step Up is a free VCH service which helps people improve their mental health through volunteering. After joining Step Up, Portia started volunteering with the Stroke Project and in the VCH office. It also helped her get a paid job.
If you’re feeling low, worried, struggling with your mood, or experience any issues with your mental health, you can contact our Step Up team. You don’t need a mental health diagnosis from a doctor.
Here are some other organisations that you can reach out to and get involved with:
- Irie Mind: a new mental health initiative, run by and for the African-Caribbean community in Hackney
- Hackney Caribbean Elderly Association: a well established community organisation for elders in Hackney providing social & cultural activities, music and movement, a dementia memory group and advocacy support.
- Sistah Space: a specialist charity that supports African and Caribbean heritage women affected by domestic and sexual abuse
- The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network has a directory of therapists of Black, African, Asian or Caribbean heritage
- Black Minds Matter connects Black individuals and families to free mental health support provided by Black therapists