Nathan Baber, External Affairs Intern, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

Event catch-up: ethnicity, money and mental health

25 May 2023

  • We hosted an online event to discuss our policy note on ethnicity, money, and mental health.
  • The research highlighted that people from minoritised ethnic groups face disproportionate challenges in terms of economic and social determinants that contribute to poor mental health.
  • The event identified potential policy solutions to address the inequalities faced by minoritised ethnic groups, emphasising the need for a universal and concerted effort.
  • Personal experiences shared during the event underscored the stigma surrounding mental health and the additional barriers faced by people from minoritised ethnic groups, highlighting the importance of cultural inclusion in support services.

On Tuesday we hosted an online event to discuss our latest policy note, which examines how ethnicity affects our experiences of money and mental health problems

Chaired by our interim chief executive, Conor D’Arcy, we were privileged to have Dr Shabna Begum from the Runnymede Trust, CEO of Hammersmith & Fulham Citizen Advice Simi Ryatt, Tracey Bignall from the Race Equality Foundation, and Diversity and Inclusion consultant Mamawa Turay attend to share their thoughts and perspectives on the issues raised. We were also delighted to be joined by Lauren and Nilesh, two experts by experience from our Research Community, who shared their thoughts on how their ethnicity has interacted with their financial and mental health. 

Catch up on the event below.

The research

The event began with Conor introducing Becca Stacey, Money and Mental Health’s Senior Research Officer and co-author of the report, who presented the research’s scope and findings. Becca discussed how the research shows that individuals from minoritised ethnic groups are disproportionately affected by the economic and social determinants that contribute to poor mental health. Factors such racism, social exclusion and low income were identified as significant contributors to mental health disparities between ethnic groups. 

Accompanying this, Becca highlighted that people from minoritised ethnic groups with mental health problems can also encounter barriers to good financial resilience. Systemic discrimination in the workplace, lower average incomes and higher levels of problem debt were identified in the research as significant challenges faced by many.

Addressing inequalities

Becca moved on to identify potential policy solutions that the government, support services, employers and essential service providers can enact to combat these inequalities faced by minoritised ethnic groups. 

There was an emphasis on the need for a universal and concerted effort to fully address the systemic discrimination and barriers faced by minoritised ethnic communities. Our report breaks this down and provides further insights and recommendations. 

Voices of experience

Following Becca, Lauren and Nilesh shared personal experiences and insights that underscored the stigma surrounding mental health and the additional challenges faced by people from minoritised ethnic groups. Both Lauren and Nilesh told attendees how their ethnicity meant they faced barriers to support, and had experienced discrimination on multiple occasions that negatively impacted their mental health and financial wellbeing needs. 

Lauren described how the stigma around mental health makes it hard to speak to mental health professionals, and how fear of being treated differently due to her ethnicity adds to the difficulty in accessing support services. Nilesh echoed Lauren, highlighting the stigma about mental health he has felt from professionals within his own community, and how his gender and age have also played a role in the support and attitudes he’s experienced.

With this in mind, Lauren and Nilesh emphasised the need for better training around ethnic and cultural inclusion for health professionals, and the importance of having ethnically diverse staff in support services. Such diversity would create a more inclusive environment in support settings, meaning people from minoritised ethnic groups can feel more comfortable and supported while navigating support with mental health and debt advice.

Discussion and reflection

The event also provided the opportunity for reflection and recommendations from experts in the field. Tracey Bignall stressed the importance of tailoring mental health and financial support to specific communities’ needs and cultural contexts. Mamawa Turay discussed the role employers play in removing barriers to work for individuals with mental health problems from minoritised ethnic groups. 

Simi Ryatt highlighted some of the important work that Citizens Advice does to deliver tailored support, in order to combat systemic discrimination and barriers to support that affect individuals from minoritised ethnic backgrounds. 

Cementing the notion that such initiatives are desperately needed, Dr Shahna Begum called for further policy responses that will address the systemic racism that drives health and economic inequalities faced by many minoritised ethnic communities. It is clear that acknowledging the underlying drivers of these disparities is crucial for implementing effective solutions.

Equity, intersectionality and support

After contributions from the panel, we took questions from attendees. We heard responses to a range of engaging questions on topics including recognising the intersectional relationship between other demographic factors and our mental and financial wellbeing, diversity in the workplace, addressing lower average incomes and more. 

Through personal stories, research findings and expert perspectives, it became evident that a comprehensive, intersectional and inclusive approach is required to ensure better mental health outcomes and improved financial wellbeing for people from minoritised ethnic groups. 

Thank you to those who joined us and to our speakers – in particular, Lauren and Nilesh who shared their personal stories and ideas. If you missed the event, or would like to rewatch it, you can catch-up here. 

If you would like to join our Research Community and share your experiences with us, you can find out more here

Read our full report – Through the lens: Ethnicity, money and mental health – here.