BLACK
MENTAL
HEALTH
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Mental health affects us all, but disparities between specific communities remain in the amount of progress made and the types of issues they face. Here, we highlight some of the issues Black communities continue to face in the UK, alongside the most influential Black figures in mental health and those pushing to make a difference.
Explore
 
TRAIL
BLAZERS
Celebrating Black excellence in mental health.
Mamie Phipps
& Kenneth Clark
In a series of groundbreaking experiments with dolls in the 1940s, the Clarks played a pivotal role in understanding the effects of racial segregation on school-age children. 

They were the first African Americans to receive a PhD in Psychology from Columbia University in the US.
Mamie Phipps Clark and Kenneth Clark with their two children.
Beverley Greene
Professor at St John's University in the US, Beverley Greene is a clinical psychologist who, through her almost 100 psychological publications, has helped shape our understanding of sexism and racism. 

A specialist in the psychology of women, gender and race, Greene was 1 of 16 women to have received the Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology in 2008.
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Ellen Kitch Childs

After becoming the first African American woman to obtain a PhD in Human Development at the University of Chicago, Ellen Kitch Childs went on to start her own practice offering free therapy sessions to those who didn't have access to the service. Dr Childs advocated for marginalised communities, including members of Black communities, sex workers, people with AIDS, and those living in poverty. 

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Kobi Kambon

Former president of the Association of Black Psychologists (1982 – 1983), Kobi Kambon has contributed a wealth of literature on Black psychology, cultural survival, and mental health. His work has taken a particular focus on how deviations from African-centred perspectives can negatively impact African Americans living in the US.

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Robert Lee Williams II

One of the founding members of the National Association of Black Psychologists and its second president, Robert Williams was instrumental in deconstructing the popular belief that African Americans were intellectually inferior to European Americans.

 

By developing the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity, he was able to demonstrate that differences in speech and personal experience accounted for African Americans worse performance on Eurocentric IQ tests.

Francis Sumner

Often credited as the “Father of Black Psychology” and commonly known for being the first African American to receive a PhD in Psychology (1920), Francis Sumner was a pioneer in research that refuted the racially biased psychological studies of African Americans that was taking place.

 

Helping to establish the Howard University’s psychology department in order to train African American psychologists, many of his students, including Kenneth Clark, also became pioneers in the field of black psychology.

Inez Beverly Prosser

As the first African American woman to receive a PhD in Psychology, Prosser's eye-opening dissertation revealed that African American children performed better at racially segregated schools.

 

Her findings, that African American students struggle to adjust socially, academically, and with their identity, while attending integrated schools, was extremely influential in the Brown vs Board of Education Supreme Court decision that occurred in 1954.

Beverly Daniel Tatum

A recipient of the APA’s highest honour, the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology, Dr Beverly Tatum is a pioneer in research relating to “race relations in the United States, and the impact of such an environment on identity development for African Americans.”

Her research has been particularly important for understanding the development of racial identity and its role in the classroom

Joseph White

A founding member of the Association of Black Psychologists and helping to establish the first Black Studies Program, Joseph White was a clinical psychologist who focused on developing and supporting the education of disadvantaged ethnic minorities that catered to their specific needs.

 

He was one of the first to speak out for the need of African American psychologists to develop our understanding of African American psychology as – “We cannot depend on them to define us. We have to charge and define ourselves. We need to build our own Psychology.”

Herman George Canady

Credited as being instrumental in the founding of the West Virginia Psychological association, the West Virginia state board of Psychological examiners, and the Charleston Guidance Clinic, Herman Canady was the first psychologist to study the influence of the examiners race, as a bias factor, in IQ testing.

His suggestions for developing a productive testing environment in which African American students can excel have been extremely influential.

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Identifying areas of Black mental health that still need our attention.
WHAT
NEEDS
TO BE
IMPROVED?
STILL
9.6%
The percentage of qualified mental health practitioners in England and Wales who are non-white
vs
13%
The percentage of the general population of England and Wales who are non-white
52%
The proportion of Black people who said that discrimination against their hair negatively affected their mental health
Compared with White people, Black people are 
4x
more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act 
Black and minority ethnic people are
40%
more likely to access mental health services via the criminal justice system than white people
37%
The percentage of Black offenders identified with schizophrenia
or another delusional disorder

(vs 9% of white offenders)
Compared with any other ethnic group, African Caribbean people are 
5x
up to
more likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital for schizophrenia
22%
11%
The proportion of Black and minority ethnic LGBT people estimated to be living with depression
The proportion of white LGBT people estimated to be living with depression
 
BREAKING
BARRIERS
Showcasing organisations working to make a difference.  
BMMUK aims to connect Black people in need of help with Black mental health professionals. 

In their words: To make this happen, we want to make mental health topics more relevant and accessible for all Black people in the U.K., removing the stigma and remodelling the services to be relevant for the Black community.
Primarily based in Brixton, South London, Black Learning Achievement and Mental Health (BLAM) aims to improve the education of Black language and history in schools. 

In their words: 
We are now focused on putting our collaborative thoughts into action by providing a service that we believe that every young person is entitled to, that is: a more comprehensive and diverse education; a safe space where their mental health and general feelings can be discussed; and a chance to explore their interests and passions with consistent support from their local community.
BAATN is the UK's largest independent organisation that specialises in psychologically working with people of Black, African and Asian descent. It aims to address the inequality of access to appropriate services for these communities. 

In their words: Our overall goal is the individual and collective processing of our inner experiences for the benefit of ours and other communities, and to give a voice to a ‘black empathic approach’² in therapy and therapy education.
Know an organisation that deserves to share the spotlight? 
 
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