for better mental health

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students' mental health support

On this page:

Find information on some of the experiences that may impact the mental health of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. This page also covers BAME mental health organisations, information on faith and on Mind programmes.

What do we mean by the term BAME?

We use the term BAME here to highlight that people from BAME communities can face particular challenges, such racial discrimination. These challenges can affect their physical and mental health, as well as their access to health services.

People have different feelings about the acronym BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic). Its use can be controversial.

It can be problematic in terms of putting different groups into a single category. This can obscure identities and particular challenges experienced by those groups referred to in the BAME acronym.

However, it can also be useful as shorthand to refer to groups who don’t experience the privileges of being White. Though this is complicated by fact that the term Minority Ethnic does include some groups who are generally understood as White.

It’s also the language used by many public and voluntary sector and academic organisations, which means it’s useful as a 'shared language'.

We acknowledge the problems with the term mean it’s ultimately unsatisfactory. We’re currently reviewing the use of BAME within Mind.

Influences on BAME students' mental health

There are a number of factors which can affect the mental health of people from BAME communities. For example:

  • racism and discrimination
  • social and economic inequalities
  • mental health stigma.

These factors can impact your mental health, and your experience of trying to access mental health support. 

Below we cover some possible influences in more detail.

Micro-aggressions

One example of the way in which racism can have an impact on mental health is through micro-aggressions.

The term is used to describe a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority group. The comment or action is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype. For example, you might experience a micro-aggression such as someone saying "you don’t sound Black".

Other examples of micro-aggressions include:

  • being asked "where are you really from?"
  • being called the wrong name
  • being mistaken for someone else of the same race
  • people assuming that English isn’t your first language.

The commonplace, subtle nature of micro-aggressions can have a significant negative impact on the health of people of colour who experience them.

"Most of all, what helps is realising there is far more to life than grades, university, the people you meet at university, more than broken friendships or broken families, more than Brexit or racism or misogyny, or those people you can't bear to live with (who will be temporary)."

Black Lives Matter and mental health

While being a movement for change, it's important to address how the Black Lives Matter movement can impact Black and Mixed Heritage people. Hearing about racism, and viewing racist behaviour, may affect your mental health in different ways.

For example, for some people the movement might have:

  • reinforced awareness about the lack of equality in our society
  • been a catalyst that has surfaced painful memories about encountering racism.

If you're feeling affected by the movement, please remember that it is important to speak to someone. See our page about getting mental health support for students.

You may also want to look into whether there are specific networks, clubs or societies for BAME students at your place of study. It might help to meet and talk to others about similar experiences.

Racial inequality in mental health support

If you are experiencing a mental health problem, you should get support and be treated with respect. For many people from BAME communities, this is unfortunately not always the case. For example, one issue is BAME people experiencing poorer outcomes from mental health treatment.

Find out about our policy work on race, ethnicity and mental health.

The Mental Health Foundation has more information about influences on the mental health of people from BAME communities.

Useful resources for BAME students

The resources below are suitable both for BAME students, and more generally for BAME mental health support.​

National Union of Students Black students' network

The National Union of Students (​NUS) Black students' network represents students of African, Asian, Arab and Caribbean heritage. The network supports issues affecting Black students on a local, national and international level.

Find out more information about the NUS Black students' network.

Spirituality and mental health

  • Mental Health Foundation – report about spirituality and mental health. The report looks at how spiritual belief and activity can have a positive effect on a person’s mental health. Read the report here –  The impact of spirituality on mental health.
  • The Muslim Youth helpline. This provides faith and culturally sensitive support and information to young people. Visit the Muslim Youth helpline website.
  • The Qur'an and Emotional Health. Suffolk Mind has worked with mental health professionals and practising Muslims to develop this emotional and mental health resource.  Find out more information, and order a copy of The Qur'an and Emotional Health.

Talking about mental health in Asian communities

Mind blogger Megan Simpson is a registered nurse and mental health advocate.

"Having a mother born in Taiwan – a culture much different from mine – often made opening up difficult."

Taraki

Taraki is a non-profit working with Punjab communities to create spaces where everyone can access:

  • mental health awareness
  • education on mental health
  • support to help care for themselves and others.

Takari also run university projects where you can take part in workshops, or get involved by working with them.

Visit the Takari website to find out more.

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