BHM: Black Health and Wellness with Sharnade George
This year, NKD’s theme for Black History Month 2022 focuses on the importance of Black Health and Wellness within the Black community.
Since the pandemic, many organisations have started to embed Health and Wellness initiatives and programs into their workplaces due to high spikes in burnout, mental health, stress, and anxiety. But have they considered how much more severe this may be for their Black and ethnic minority employees? According to the NHS, Black adults have the lowest mental health treatment rate of any ethnic group, at 6% (compared to 13% in the White British group).
So, what can organisations do to support Black and Health and Wellness initiatives?
Derek Danquah, NKD had the opportunity to sit down and talk with special guest, Sharnade George, who is a Psychotherapist and founder of Cultureminds Therapy about the topic. Her organisation, Cultureminds Therapy, is a Mental Health and a therapist directory, and their aim is to helping individuals from all backgrounds, including ethnic minorities, to engage in healthy conversations about Mental Health and help support to seek professional care if needed.
Derek Danquah: Hi Sharnade! I would love to know a little bit about yourself and what you do for work?
Sharnade George: I like to think of myself as a psychotherapist who is creative, so I’ve gone down the route of going to university and doing my masters.
But I wanted to take therapy outside of the office because I find that within our community, we don’t talk about therapy. Therapy is very ‘hush-hush’. And so, I thought to myself, how can I bring therapy outside of the office, but in a creative way? And so, this stemmed from me doing interviews with public figures who were sharing their stories. Then from the interviews I was doing, people within the Black community would get in touch with me regarding therapy.
This is when I thought, ok I’m on to something here. So, my organisation Cultureminds Therapy is a directory and membership platform for people from the Black and Asian community who can either find a therapist or become their own therapist. So, equip themselves with tools and techniques to take care of their mental health and well-being.
DD: I think that’s amazing. Massive hats off to yourself because I think to spearhead such an important issue and conversation within the community will only bring change in the right direction!
Did you always plan to create your own business in the psychotherapist field?
SG: That’s a really good question and yes, I’ve always wanted to have my own business.
I always wanted to become a clinical psychologist, actually, and that was the passion. I grew up in a household where my dad was very inquisitive, and he spoke to me about the mind and brain, so it really stuck with me and inspired me to explore the elements of psychology and Mental Health.
But at the time when I started, I didn’t think of it as a business because I really enjoyed doing it. After some time, the business elements started to get embedded and that’s when it became real.
DD: That is really inspiring!
SG: Thank you!
DD: This year, the theme for this Black History Month campaign is Black Health and Wellness. And we are celebrating some of the amazing initiatives that have been created to help aid health and wellness within the Black Community.
Is there an initiative, charity, or organisation that you support and why?
SG: Yes, most definitely.
I am a big supporter of so many different charities and one of them is Black Minds Matter and they are doing amazing things. They are well known for connecting black individuals and families with free Mental Health services – by professional Black therapists to support their Mental Health.
And there’s another charity called Black Soup Kitchen, which is a charity who provide food for the homeless, which is a basic need and I think that it’s incredible as they also welcome conversations to help aid their overall Wellbeing.
DD: Those are two great organisations and are doing amazing things within the Black Community. I think they deserve a lot of praise and support with everything they do.
DD: I want to dig a bit deeper into the health care system within the UK. We know the NHS has been under a lot of pressure since the pandemic but let’s go back in time a little further. In 2017/2018, Black people were consistently the least to report success in getting a hospital appointment, compared to their White counterparts, according to the NHS. When you hear statistics like this how does it make you feel?
SG: I’ve actually witnessed it first hand when I worked in the psychiatric hospital. There were a lot of Black people, and it was very hard for them to get a place within the hospital, and this is psychiatric care. They struggled to the point where they had to get a multidisciplinary team around them who can support them – which is terrible to see.
DD: That must have been tough to see, do you think there are ways to combat these issues?
SG: I think as therapists and people who work in the mental health profession, we need to be coming out about bit more to normalise conversations and helping the ethnic minority to understand more about Mental Health. And with the hope of doing that we can encourage people to seek help in different ways.
DD: Thank you for sharing and I agree with you. I think if we could normalise conversations around mental health and wellness, especially within our community, that can only bring less pressure to those need to get help.
SG: Exactly, I think it’s about planting the seed and encouraging the conversation.
DD: That leads to my next question, how can cultural competence help medical practitioners understand the nuances of Black health and Wellbeing? And what impact does this have on the health services?
SG: This is such big question but, in a nutshell, I’ve worked in many NHS services and seen a difference in how professionals treat Black people, just as a result of not understanding their culture.
So, I think it’s important that health professionals have cultural education to understand their patients better and this could be integrated in workplace training, our community taking charge to educate and so on.
DD: Totally, those are really great points.
Touching on the point of workplace training, what can organisations do to support Black Health and Wellness initiatives?
SG: Well, inclusion and diversity is so important, so I think it’s about getting the right professionals in to work with your organisation and creating maybe a tailored program for your staff to be put in place.
DD: What could some of these frameworks look like?
SG: Well, these can consist of things like workshops and resources to help the conversation going and educate everyone. That would be a good place to start!
DD: Thank you Sharnade for you time and insights today. Just a last question from me, what would you say to a Black person struggling with Mental Health and is battling with getting help?
SG: When it comes to therapy or getting support for Mental Health it’s a very daunting process. You will feel nervous, anxious, and scared. You don’t need to necessarily follow that feeling with straightaway starting therapy.
I would recommend doing some research, initially, on how you’re feeling and using that information you find to give to a GP or therapist.
Know yourself and know when you’re struggling because this is a key indicator of you needing help. I have many resources and videos on tips to look out for when starting therapy, so check them out.
DD: Thank you Sharnade!
Explore more about Sharnade’s work by visiting the links below:
If you’re affected by any of the topics discussed today, check out the organisations below for more information and support:
Check out our last Black History Month campaign here