Rethink Mental Illness Anti-Racist Statement

We are pleased to be publishing this statement of our commitment to becoming an anti-racist employer, campaigning organisation and service provider – and in our efforts to influence policy and wider societal factors impacting on mental health.  

We know that people from minority ethnic communities in the UK are more likely to experience mental illness but are less likely to receive the mental health care support they need. And we know that this is partly due to the stigma around mental health in some minority ethnic communities. But we also know that these racial disparities in mental health service access and treatment stem from historical and societal prejudice, racism and discrimination. And we also know that people from minority ethnic backgrounds face similar prejudice, racism and discrimination in the workplace. Rethink Mental Illness is not immune from this injustice, but we are committed to changing it.

The events in 2020 with the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing anti-racism protests intensified the need for us to examine what we needed to do to become a truly anti-racist organisation. We know that we need to do more to tackle racism in our workplace and in our society – wherever and whenever it occurs. We needed to identify and tackle the systemic, structural and personalised racism faced by our minority ethnic colleagues and those in the communities we support as a mental health service provider and campaigner.

We can no longer simply be not racist; we will be actively and visibly anti-racist.

That is why Rethink Mental Illness invited Oxytocin-Learning (Oxytocin) to conduct an independent external review of our progress in becoming an anti-racist organisation. The recommendations from the Oxytocin-Learning independent external review and from our diverse, internal Pledge Groups are enabling us to focus on activities that will help us become a truly anti-racism organisation. We have designed a multi-year anti-racist programme of work contained in our Race Equality Action Plan with equity (or fairness) at the heart of everything we do – from campaigning for and co-designing mental health services for minority ethnic communities to creating a truly inclusive and anti-racist workplace. This includes:

  • Ensuring that racial equality will be a standing agenda item at each Board of Trustees meeting and that an appointment is made to the Board with someone who has expertise on issues of race equality and mental health.
  • Setting up a Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff network to facilitate constructive challenge to our anti-racist programme of work and to provide a safe space for our minority ethnic colleagues to share ideas, discuss issues and support to each other.
  • Launching a mutual-mentoring programme to enhance awareness of the lived experience of minority ethnic colleagues amongst our senior leaders and to strengthen their commitment and capability on being anti-racist allies and sponsors for our Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues.
  • Improving our data gathering to better understand who is using our mental health services so that we can remove any barriers to access and adapt our services to our racialised and other minoritised communities.
  • Ensuring we develop local and national partnerships with organisations who work with and represent Black, Asian and other minoritised communities so that we can learn from them and support their service-delivery to these communities.
  • Gathering and analysing our ethnicity workforce data so that we can design and measure our progress against evidence-based activities on diverse representation and ethnicity pay gap reporting.
  • Advocating for racial justice and equity and improved mental health provision by seeking to influence national and local policy to root out racism and inequality.
  • Speaking out about racism and inequality where we see it and supporting the voices of people from Black, Asian and other minoritised communities
  • Ensuring that issues of racial justice and equity are embedded in our policy and practice work.
  • Implementing diverse and inclusive recruitment, succession planning and talent management strategies to strengthen Black, Asian and minority ethnic representation at all levels in the charity.  
  • Developing a revised approach to our grievance management and disciplinary procedures in co-production with our minority ethnic colleagues to ensure it is fair, open and transparent in terms of processes and outcomes.
  • Ensuring we use appropriate and respectful language and terminology, including not using the acronym ‘BAME’ (unless for purposes of capturing and reporting on ethnicity data, where it is not possible to disaggregate between different groups, and to adhere to GDPR requirements) as it does not represent the unique experiences and different outcomes of the diverse groups in our society.

We have already delivered on some of our anti-racist commitments, including:

  • Establishing a Race Equality Programme Board and a Race Equality Delivery Group to respectively provide strategic oversight and coordinated delivery of our Race Equality Action Plan.
  • Signing up to the Business in the Community Race at Work Charter – an initiative designed for organisations to collectively commit to improving equal opportunities for minority ethnic employees in the UK.
  • Investing in resource to deliver our anti-racist programme of work, including appointing an Associate Director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Race Equality and a Head of Equity Racial Justice.
  • Adding Equity to our values.

This anti-racist statement expresses our commitment to make meaningful and sustainable change as an employer, campaigning organisation and a mental health service provider and to demonstrate our intention to hold ourselves accountable and be judged on our progress on becoming a truly anti-racist organisation.

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