7 October - Mental health network - governance during the COVID-19 pandemic

11 October 2021

This week’s session was devoted entirely to Black History Month.

Overheard during the webinar:

“Talking about race and racism is uncomfortable for people who are not black people. It’s too often trivialised or avoided.”

“Colour-blindness is not anti-racism.”

“The whitewashing of history has erased the role of black people. For example, the British role in the ending of the slave trade has always been attributed to William Wilberforce, with no recognition of black activists and their struggle. This affects black people’s perception of themselves – as people who need to be saved. We never hear about people like William Cuffay, a black tailor who was involved in the struggle for universal suffrage who became an important figure in the Chartist movement in the Nineteenth Century.”

“Boards must understand the communities they’re serving. Don’t just take the lazy option of speaking to faith networks. Not all Black people are religious.”

“Health inequalities in mental health are so stark. We’ve talked about this for many years – things like the lack of access to talking therapies, Black people being more likely to be in out of area placements, and more likely to be restrained etc. We all know about this so why aren’t we demanding change?”

“It’s a travesty we need Black History Month at all. It’s a festering reminder that the norm is white. I find it really galling that it’s needed. It’s a bitter pill.”

“I would say to white allies: get on and do your own research; don’t wait to be told by black colleagues. It’s so important to earn trust as a white leader. Once BME colleagues feel able to share, don’t be defensive when you hear challenging voices – it’s a lifetime of lived experience coming out. Figure out what being a successful ally looks like. And remember, you shouldn’t expect medals for doing this stuff – it’s really basic. You shouldn’t expect congratulations. I’m much happier hearing staff saying things like ‘well it’s about time this is happening’.”

“I think we should use Black History Month to celebrate, to endorse the good practice, to pass on the baton to others so we can go further and faster. As Obama said, change is brought about by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

“We’re here to serve the entirety of the people in our populations and we can’t do that if we’re unable to understand their world. To me the importance of diversity at board level is crucial. It’s a business case: we make better decisions and we get better innovation if we have a real mix of people in the room. I’m sick of people making excuses about this.”

These meetings are by invitation only. For further details, visit our events page.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about these webinars, please contact: events@good-governance.org.uk