Unlocking the Chains of Racism and White Supremacy: A Journey Through the UK’s Mental Health System.

Jarell Bempong
3 min readFeb 14, 2023
Photo by Dazzle Jam

The United Kingdom, like the rest of the world, is not immune to the pervasive effects of racism and white supremacy. Black and other minority communities continue to face unequal treatment, discrimination, and marginalisation because of the legacies of colonialism, slavery, and institutionalised racism. When looking at the mental health system in the United Kingdom, for example, one may see the effects of racism and white supremacy in many different contexts.

This article aims to examine how racism and white supremacy have influenced the mental health care that Black and other minority individuals have received in the United Kingdom and to suggest solutions to these problems.

Microaggressions are a pervasive problem in the United Kingdom’s mental health system, negatively affecting people of colour (especially Black people). Microaggressions are a form of racism that is subtle and frequently unintended, yet they can inflict significant harm and pain on people of colour.

Assumptions about the mental health of Black and other minority individuals based on their race and dismissive attitudes towards their experiences and needs are examples of microaggressions that can occur in the context of mental health. As a result, people of colour (especially Black people) may be less inclined to seek help for their mental health than they otherwise would be.

Furthermore, Black and other minority individuals in the UK are negatively impacted by racism and white supremacy due to a lack of cultural competence among mental health practitioners. It may be difficult for most white mental health professionals to fully appreciate the varied experiences and viewpoints of the many individuals of colour who have distinct understandings and perspectives on mental health. This lack of awareness could lead to subpar medical care for the patient. Additionally, people of colour, particularly Black people, may find it easier to discuss their mental health with people who share their background. Yet, this option is often unavailable within the mental health system.

Poor mental health in Black and other minority communities is exacerbated by racism and white supremacy, as well as broader social, economic, and political causes. Poverty, joblessness, prejudice, and the aftereffects of colonial and postcolonial experiences all fall into this category. Mental health professionals can better assist people of colour, like Black people and other minorities, if they are aware of and work to improve these broader concerns.

So, how can the mental health system in the UK be improved for people of colour, particularly Black people?

Firstly, it is crucial to raise awareness of the problem and encourage Black people and other minority individuals to seek support for their mental health. More people can be made aware of mental health issues through targeted campaigns and support services that consider different cultures.

Secondly, mental health professionals need to receive training and support in cultural consciousness, including an understanding of the experiences of Black and other minority communities and the impact of racism and white supremacy on mental health. All mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and support workers, should learn about culture as part of their training and development.

Thirdly, the influence of microaggressions inside the mental health system and the behaviours of mental health practitioners need to be recognised and addressed. To find and solve the problem, it might be necessary to make laws and rules that promote diversity and acceptance. Furthermore, mental health professionals must be open to introspection, analysing their beliefs and biases.

Finally, policymakers must address the broader social, economic, and political factors contributing to poor mental health among Black and other minority communities. This could mean putting money into community-led projects, doing something about poverty and unemployment, and promoting policies that fight racism and white supremacy.

To sum up, the history of racism and white supremacy has affected Black people’s and other minorities’ experiences inside the UK’s mental health system, resulting in unequal treatment and poor outcomes. But policymakers can start to right the wrongs and move toward proper mental health care for Black and minority communities by raising awareness, giving mental health professionals training in cultural awareness, addressing the effects of “microaggressions,” and addressing the more critical social, economic, and political factors that contribute to poor mental health.

For more information on culturally conscious, 1–1 therapy, corporate training and speaking engagements, please send me an email at jarell@bempongtalkingtherapy.com



Jarell Bempong

Advocating for AI-enhanced, culturally conscious care to elevate diversity and inclusivity in mental health practices.