Empowering black & brown healthcare professionals

Empowering black & brown healthcare professionals

Mental Health Awareness Week

The percentage of black and brown healthcare professionals experiencing harassment, bullying and abuse from patients, relatives and the public has increased.

As we approach mental health awareness week and the official theme for 2023’s Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety.

Physicians and other healthcare professionals are at high risk of anxiety and burnout. This often leads to feelings of frustration, exhaustion and reduced job satisfaction, including experiencing harassment.

And, yes I would agree we all feel anxious from time to time. In an environment packed with long work days, a demanding pace, time pressures and emotional intensity.

Additionally, the healthcare system can be challenging to navigate with administrative burdens and limited resources.

According, to the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES), healthcare professionals of colour face various challenges due to racial disparities in the UK healthcare system

This report shows there is much to do to improve the experience of Black and brown colleagues to eradicate racism.

Just 44.4% of NHS staff believe their trust provides equal opportunities for career progression or promotion.

Hence, we are focusing on empowering Black and Brown healthcare professionals during #mentalhealthawarenessweek


4 key challenges for black & brown healthcare professionals

Black and brown healthcare professionals face several challenges in the profession not just career progression and promotion.

In a recent, Safespace conversation with Judith Fairweather, Blu Reynolds & Darren Fernandes we explored some of the challenges perpetuating disparities across the healthcare system including;

  1. Racial disparities London is the most ethnically diverse region with 46.2% of residents identified Asian, black, mixed or ‘other’ ethnic groups. London has almost 50% (BME) representation across the workforce. Hence, a focus on improving the black & brown experience is needed now more than ever.
  2. Abuse from patients, relatives & the public In 2020, BME staff reported that they were experiencing othering, treating someone as intrinsically different or alien to oneself, including micro-aggressions. This sends denigrating messages to people of colour from both patients and colleagues that they are ‘less than’ or different.
  3. Bullying & harassment The percentage of staff experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from other staff in the last 12 months was higher for BME staff. This is especially evident for BME women in general management (32.8%), medical and dental (31.6%), and registered nursing & midwifery (30.4%).
  4. Career progression & promotion. In 2022, only 35% of staff from a black background felt that their Trust provides equal opportunities for career progression or promotion. Yet, BME staff were 1.47 times more likely than white staff to enter the formal disciplinary process, with London region being the highest for this indicator.


Empowering black & brown healthcare professionals

Burnout is a long-term stress reaction marked by emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and a lack of sense of personal accomplishment.

“We want to provide a safe space for black and brown healthcare colleagues to share stories and lived experiences, provide resources and support those experiencing anxiety related stress” 

Blu Reynolds, Change Lead

We understand the importance of feeling heard and supported which is why we’re here to provide valuable resources, that can also be shared with other colleagues.

At the same time, we will keep up the pressure to demand change and increase awareness and understanding, especially of our colleagues and allies whom may never encounter such experiences of anxiety and harassment.

Let’s work together to create a safe and inclusive workplace for black & brown healthcare professionals.

Download our wellbeing toolkit a resource for “Overcoming Anxiety and Harassment in the Workplace”