Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England has announced the launch of a new Race Equity and Mental Health course. Designed for senior leaders, the course will help learners improve the mental health of their organisations by creating an equitable workplace for all employees.  

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) reports that over a third (37%) of People of Colour say they have been bullied, abused, or singled out because of their race at work, leading to 57% of Black women or women of Colour to have suffered mental health problems because of workplace bullying. 

But in a recent MHFA England poll, while 95% of people agreed that racism and its effects have a significant negative effect on the mental health of People of Colour and Black People, only 16% said they would feel comfortable and confident talking about it, highlighting the disparity between awareness and confidence in the workplace. 

With half of Black Britons reporting they are as likely to have experienced racism at work as in the street, the course will empower leaders with tools to speak confidently about race, challenge racism from the top, and take opportunities to dismantle racial inequities in their organisations.  

Head of People, Wellbeing and Equity Ama Afrifa-Tchie says;

BITC reported in 2020 that Black employees were the most likely to feel that they need to leave their organisation to progress, at 55%. Statistics like these continue to demonstrate that systemic racism in the UK workplace is alive, well, and preventing People of Colour and Black people from bringing their whole self to work. 

“Authentic, inclusive leadership is about advocacy and adapting to the realities of inclusion. In the last year I have spoken to a number of employers and their people about race, racism, and its impacts on mental health in the workplace. Many of them made it clear they were conscious and keen to address these issues, but simply didn’t know how to be proactive allies, or where to start on their journeys to make genuine tangible changes. 

“Our Race Equity and Mental Health training will help leaders gain a foothold in the anti-racism conversation, start to bring down those barriers, conscious or otherwise, develop vocabulary with which to discuss racism at work, and create a culture of care that is truly equitable.” 

In July 2020 MHFA England published a statement of intent to become an anti-racist social enterprise, and in September 2020 alongside the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and Business in the Community (BITC) published guidance on supporting the mental health of People of Colour and Black people as part of the My Whole Self campaign to change workplace culture. 

Reflecting on the year’s progress, Simon Blake, Chief Executive of MHFA England, says; 

“I am proud we are offering this critically important training to help leaders address racial inequity and better support the wellbeing and mental health of People of Colour and Black people within their workplace.

“As a Chief Executive, I like many others have taken a long and careful look at our organisation in these terms. We have had to ask ourselves some difficult questions and have both important and uncomfortable conversations about race equity and mental health.

“Learning to embrace the uncomfortable has been central to the progress we have made so far. Our own journey to becoming a truly equitable and anti-racist social enterprise is of course still ongoing. We are excited to be able to use our expertise and learning to create the organisational and societal change we know is essential.” 

Through a combination of sessions led by MHFA England Instructor Members and individual learning, the course has been developed to challenge the status quo, facilitate brave spaces for open conversations about race, and help organisations build their vision for race equity and mental health. 

Reflecting on her experience of a pilot course, Anita Wheeler, Head of Learning, Development and Internal Communications at Student Roost, comments; 

"Get ready to open your eyes and ears and be ready to learn. We have all trodden a different path and for some this has been a difficult one. Our facilitators carefully guided us through the course, providing a safe space to learn about such an important subject." 

Read more about Race Equity and Mental Health and make an enquiry with the MHFA England team by heading to: