Black mental health championed at Brixton event
National charities, campaigners, activists and artists gathered together on Wednesday to celebrate the launch of a new mental health platform, Bayo, which offers support and services specifically tailored to the Black community.
Developed in partnership with the Ubele Initiative, the event saw representatives from national Mind, Mind in Haringey, Young Minds, Best Beginnings and the National Emergencies Trust call for culturally appropriate care for Black youth; and reaffirm the importance of holding space for young Black people in the ongoing national conversation about mental health. Bayo, which means ‘Joy has found us’ in Yoruba, is the first-of-its-kind programme to empower Black communities in finding effective and accessible mental health support.
The event was packed with activities including a drumming workshop, dance class, poetry and spoken word recitals and art therapy. Guests watched a screening of the powerful short film ‘Me, My Father and Mental Health’, a moving insight into Courtney Brown’s (CEO of Father2Father) childhood navigating family trauma and systemic racism. Attendees, including the creator of Rastamouse, Michael de Souza, and the UK’s first Black ventriloquist, Owen Reid, had open conversations about mental health over delicious Caribbean food and refreshments.
Speaking at the event, Nicholas Pinnock, actor and Mind ambassador said:
“Being Black in London under these circumstances means that the Black community needs a different type of culturally sensitive therapy and care. I urge all young people to try and get the help they deserve. I’ve had my own public struggles with mental health, and if I didn’t get the therapy and help from my family that I so desperately needed, I probably wouldn’t be here today. It’s so important that we support initiatives like Bayo and offer all the help we can, and encourage as many people as possible to stand with us in lifting up initiatives developed by and for the Black community.”
Dr Yansie Rolston, Associate Director of Health and Wellbeing at the Ubele Initiative, said:
“In the wake of the pandemic, which disproportionately impacted the Black community, and rising disparate mental health detentions and restraints, Bayo will provide healing and joyful spaces for young Black people to seek solace and recovery in. With people of Black heritage now nearly 5 times more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and rates of restrictive interventions like physical and chemical restraint doubling in just 6 years, Black communities need respite now more than ever in the form of culturally appropriate, therapeutic care.
“However, even though Black young people have the same right as everyone else to access mental health services, they are met with a lack of cultural sensitivity which is important in understanding and addressing emotional and mental distress. Understanding the nuances of cultural values, beliefs and biases goes a long way in dismantling inequalities and providing better quality mental health care. For Black young people who might have had previous negative experiences or struggled to open up about their mental health in the past, community-led support that offers safe, nurturing and inclusive spaces can be invaluable.”