Children and young people can experience discrimination due to their ethnicity, as well as their faith, beliefs, culture or language – whether perceived or real.
This can increase children and young people’s vulnerability by:
- making them feel different, that they don’t belong or aren’t good enough
- leading them to focus on negative images, media stories etc., that devalue certain people and groups
- limiting their opportunities both within and outside of the educating setting
- being exposed to race- or faith-based bullying.
We know many people can feel shame and stigma as a result of mental illness. This can be more common, intense and severe for members of some Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities – leading to families being fearful about opening up discussions and sometimes hiding early signs and symptoms.
Schools need to be aware of these issues when opening up a conversation with families and children on mental health and wellbeing. You may need to help parents and carers think through the process of seeing mental health as a spectrum, and how risks and protective factors play a role in children and young people’s mental health.
“It’s the negativity, as a child, being told you can’t do things, people in power and in authority saying you can’t do things. Even family saying you can’t do things.”
“It's psychologically damaging to think, at that young age, that you're different, that you can't do anything and that your life is almost over before it begins. So when you're almost mentally segregated and pushed away, well - it’s going to cause immense mental problems.”
“People become what is expected of them, they become what’s expected… they play up, they disrupt, they become the class joker.”
Quotes from young African-Caribbean men who were interviewed for a Centre for Mental Health report.