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How can HR teams and line managers gain a better understanding of the unique mental health challenges that may be faced by ethnic minority employees? Sandra Kerr offers guidance
The Covid pandemic has exacerbated existing disparities but it has also been a catalyst for change – challenging the way we think about mental health and race at work, helping employers imagine new ways of working.
[pullquote]A culturally aware manager recognises the need to create and provide a system of support for ethnic minority employees built on intentional connections and relationship-building”[/pullquote]
On 25 May 2020, an increased commitment to mental health from many businesses converged with issues raised by the killing of George Floyd and the anti-racism protests which followed. Almost overnight, we saw a renewed urgency in tackling racial disparities in the workplace and a significant increase in businesses signing up to Business in the Community’s Race at Work Charter.
The challenge, however, remains with Business in the Community’s Mental Health at Work 2020 survey finding that 41% of employees experienced symptoms of poor mental health, directly related to work and more than half (51%) of these symptoms were due to increased work pressure.
Added to this, almost two in three (58%) of Black, Asian and ethnic minority employees have experienced non-inclusive behaviours in the workplace. People from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds are also more likely to have faced financial insecurity, bereavement, job losses and lower access to care – all risk factors associated with mental health conditions.
So how can HR departments and line managers gain a better understanding of the unique mental health challenges that may be faced by ethnic minority employees?
Guidance for employers and managers
To support businesses, BITC has recently launched its Mental Health and Wellbeing for Ethnically Diverse Women toolkit for managers. The guide provides practical advice for employers and line managers in developing their cultural awareness.
Cultural awareness is based on understanding that we all have different values and experiences shaped by our backgrounds, and a culturally aware manager recognises the need to create and provide a system of support for ethnic minority employees built on intentional connections and relationship-building.
This is the vital first step for managers in understanding the nuances in