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Inclusion and Mental Health

When I turned 17, I started to notice that I was not quite experiencing the world in the same way that my friends and peers seemed to be. I was struggling with both the psychological and physical symptoms of mental illness - I had no idea at the time but it was the first onset of my anxiety disorder, and accompanying depression. But I would not learn those terms and wouldn’t be able to name what I was going through until many years later. Although it feels like just yesterday, over a decade has passed, and I am constantly thrilled to reflect on how things have evolved in the mental health landscape since then.

Education and support are both more readily available and accessible to those struggling with their psychological wellbeing. Emotional health is being spoken about and taught to young children, workplaces are reconstructing what healthy employment looks like, celebrated and notable figures are openly sharing their mental health stories, and both public and private organisations are offering various channels to wellbeing support.

Looking back at where mental health started in society, one of the biggest barriers (and of course not one that we have entirely overcome) was openness. The stigma associated with mental illness prevented open conversation, and subsequently meant help seeking behaviour was reduced. Too many people struggled in silence. However, incredible and brave advocates, organisations, and charities fought hard to open those conversations up, and to provide people with the tools and education to have supportive discussions.

Whilst it is important to celebrate much needed progress, we cannot simply reflect on how far we have come; we must also recognise that this means we now need to move the goalposts. As we have learnt more about mental health (and specifically mental illness), it has become very clear that there are groups, communities and demographics who have a very different experience. For example:

  • Men and women from African-Caribbean communities in the UK have higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide risk[1]

  • People who identify as LGBT+ have higher rates of common mental health problems[2]

  • Children and young people with a learning disability are three times more likely than average to have a mental health problem[3]

  • Black people are 40% more likely to access treatment through a police or criminal justice route rather than through health systems[4]

  • Middle-aged men are more likely to die by suicide than any other age group[5]

These are only a handful of examples of groups, some of which are already marginalised within society, and the specific challenges and mental health outcomes they face.


These stark statistics remind us that the next stage of the mental health movement must continue to centre around inclusion and equity. Talking about mental health will always be important, but we also must ask, when we talk are we hearing diverse and representative voices? And when we move from talking to action, are we considering the specific needs of those who experience different outcomes?

Whether we are individuals or organisations, we must recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is no longer suitable in mental health. We should continue to talk, learn, and engage to ensure that as our society evolves, the mental health agenda keeps up.


[1] Mental health inequalities: factsheet | Centre for Mental Health [2] As above [3] As above [4] https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/legal-news/legal-newsletter-june-2019/discrimination-in-mental-health-services/ [5]https://www.samaritans.org/about-samaritans/research-policy/middle-aged-men-suicide/




For more information on how you can gain access to our mental health support email info@inspireuk.co

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Written by Anastasia Vinnikova, Trustee

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