Dear RUMS members,

The murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others has contributed to the growing success of the continuing Black Lives Matter movement. This has led to protests worldwide, particularly in the US, bringing to the fore conversations about race and inequality in our society.

The ongoing battles of the Black community and allies, requires action from wider society to make substantial progress. We must all play our part to bring about the systemic change that needs to happen. With that in mind, please see attached the linked statement put forward by the RUMS committee. It is a fantastic resource, and a great starting point to begin one’s education on the systemic and institutional racism that is prevalent within our society. Please see also the list of petitions linked at the end of this document for ways to get involved and make a difference.

Medics4Medics is dedicated to promoting and supporting mental health amongst all medical students. Of particular relevance to our work this year, is evidence that mental health outcomes and experiences of appropriate services are poorer amongst those from BAME backgrounds. As a society, we recognise our responsibility to help break down the barriers of mental health stigma and to offer additional support and guidance. We also appreciate that experiences of mental health can vary a lot between different ethnic groups, and we will ensure that we don’t generalise.

We are committed to:

  1. Incorporating BAME perspectives on mental health into our events
  2. Supporting the BLM and ‘Black Minds Matter’ agenda on social media
  3. Including RUMS student feedback via a questionnaire

We are looking to start things off with a discussion surrounding the mental health experiences of BAME medical students and doctors in the next few weeks. If you are interested in speaking about your experiences, please get in touch via email or DM. We will also be posting regularly about future Medics4Medics events and news, please keep an eye out in the RUMS bulletin!

We have compiled a list of resources that we hope will offer useful information on Black Minds Matter. It is important to protect your mental health in these difficult times. We are here to serve and support you, and hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.

Your Medics4Medics committee,

Srishti Agarwal (srishti.agarwal.18@ucl.ac.uk)
Niraj Kumar (niraj.kumar.18@ucl.ac.uk)
Lorcan Jeffreys (lorcan.jeffreys.18@ucl.ac.uk)
Kabir Khanna (kabir.khanna.19@ucl.ac.uk)

Resources

Books

  • The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health - Rheeda Walker
  • Black Pain: It Looks like We’re Not Hurting - Terrie Williams
  • Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability - Stephanie Y. Evans
  • Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith - Monica Coleman

Articles

We’ve picked a few quotes from each article that particularly resonated with us, and included them below. Please have a read.

  1. ”Why Black Mental Health Literacy Matters”
    • Written by Founder of BEAM, Yolo Akili Robinson, this article explains BEAM's SJM (Social Justice Informed Mental Health Literacy) Approach.
    • “SJM was created because traditional mental health literacy models fail at contextualizing how the histories of racism, misogyny and homophobia influence mental health stressors and outcomes today.
    • SJM is a tool for transformative justice. It can be used to guide how we create healing spaces for our people. We allow it to help us dream of a world where Black healing is interwoven into all aspects of our lives. SJM is one part of a larger healing justice movement which asserts that Black healing is essential to Black liberation”.
  2. Filling our Cups: 4 ways People of Colour can Foster Mental Health and Practice Restorative Healing
    • “The strong, Black woman. The Asian “model minority.” “¡No soy loco!” These tropes, expressions, and labels are often used to demonstrate (and even celebrate) the “resiliency” of people of color. But it’s a trap. These stereotypes may seem empowering, but beneath the surface, they are damaging. By denying our humanity, we downplay the mental-health effects of racial trauma. We perpetuate the stigma of mental illness in our communities. And we ignore our own pain and suffering”.
  3. Healing Justice is How We Can Sustain Black Lives
    • “We are re-infusing the art and practice of healing with our souls, listening to our bodies and to our ancestors, and remembering that we don’t heal only for the sake of feeling good. We heal so that we can act and organize. We heal so that we can use the lessons gained through the wounds of our trauma to make necessary change in our world”.
  4. Black Minds Matter
    • It’s incredibly important for parents, family members and educators to protect the ability for our babies just to be babies—to laugh, to make mistakes, to color outside of the lines, to create things with blocks that don’t make sense to those of us who have forgotten how to dream. Too often we snatch them from black kids in ways that are unfair and undeserved.
  5. Black Mental Health Matters: How to cope during a time of social injustice, according to experts
    • This article has some useful tips on how to look after your mental health, with special focus on Black Mental health.
  6. “When Dismantling Power Dismantles You Instead”
    • “Activism brings with it the usual stressors of a full-time job—long hours, precarious work-life balancing acts, vexing “office politics”—as well as other more intense pressures.”
    • “Activists have this sense of urgency about dismantling these huge systems of power, and when that comes up against how slow change can be and all the barriers that pop up along the way, it can cause burnout.”
    • “It's the culture of “martyrdom” often intrinsic to activist communities that can make people unwilling to admit they need a break, or make people feel guilty when they do.”
    • “One of the points Narro tries to hammer into activists most is the idea that their work isn’t defined by the result.”

Petitions

This link will direct you to a series of petitions campaigning for the BLM movement: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#petitions