It’s Black history month and this year’s theme is ‘Time for change : Actions not Word’s.

Effectively Supporting Black employees’ mental health is critical for organizations as a
blanket approach to mental health and wellbeing initiatives can be detrimental to Black
Employees due to diverse experiences and stressors. You may be asking why, well let
me break it down and highlight the mental health disparities which exist due to social
,economic, systemic and cultural factors.

Black females are more likely to experience common health problems that their white
female counterparts and exposure to racism can result in Black Individuals being more
susceptible to depression and psychosis . The aforementioned antecedents can
compromise Black Employees mental health and have an adverse effect upon their job
performance, productivity and cognitive performance.

Although your Black Employees may be experiencing poor mental health it can go
unnoticed or be overlooked due to cultural stigmas and concepts such as ‘Black don’t
crack’ and ‘The strong black women” which results in the masking of burnout due to not
wanting to be perceived as ‘weak’ as Black individuals are already facing challenges in
the workplace and don’t want to miss out on opportunities. I Know this all too well as a
Black British Woman that experienced a bout of depression and I was still fully
functioning , going to work and smiling but when I arrived home was very emotional,
tearful and experiencing a lack of enjoyment and apathy.


1. Establish Employee networks or Employee Resource Groups (ERG) Black
Employees as this will help to foster an inclusive environment in which
everyone in an organization feels like they belong and reduces isolation
which can be a trigger for a deterioration in mental health .
Employee Networks provides a safe space for Black Employees to express and
share their experiences in non judgemental space. It is critical for Black
Employees to have a voice and to feel heard as this is vital to the health and
wellbeing of Black and minority employees. After all we all need to be heard and
our diverse experiences acknowledged as we know that COVID
disproportionately affects minority groups and racial injustice globally will be
adversely impacting upon your employees and they will be considering your
organisation’s stance on this along with Black History Month.
Its important for HR to engage with ERG members as this positions HR to reflect
on how their black and ethnic minority colleagues, appraise the HR role, function
and position in responding to and taking effective action on pertinent issues when
they’re raised. This may highlight potential unconscious bias on the part of HR
and/or weaknesses in HR policies/processes, as well as how they’re
implemented in practice to resolve such issues.
Finally ERG members can also advise HR on ways to make the process of
reporting incidents more accessible, safe, equitable and fair which improves the
relationship between HR and black colleagues, as well as a physically and
psychologically safer environment.

2.Train managers and leaders on diverse mental health as this will assist with
early identification of mental health difficulties and creating a safe space for
employees to be supported and signposted to relevant organizations and
resources such as Black MindsMatter or Black, African and Asian Therapy
Network (BAATAN).Training Managers and leaders can assist with employee
engagement and retention as your employees will experience a greater sense of
belonging within the organization.

3.To Provide black employees with the option of accessing support from Black
therapists and /or resources to enhance their mental health as this
acknowledgement of potential different needs creates inclusion and will allow
Black employees to feel understood and visible. Culturally appropriate support is
critical for therapy outcomes and the therapeutic alliance which determines
treatment outcome especially if the employees mental health deterioration is
related to cultural or racial experiences. I frequently received referrals from
clients for these reasons as they want to feel safe and confident that their
therapist understands their lived experiences rather than purely relying upon a
theoretical framework.

Martina Witter
Award Winning Health and Well-being Consultant I Accredited Cognitive
Behaviour Therapist I Resilience Expert I Speaker I Mindset Coach

Linkedin – Martina Motivator and Rapha therapy and Training Services

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