Tackling racism in the workplace

On Monday 5 June 2023, our Women and Mental Health Special Interest Group event brought you an evening with Professor Camara Phyllis Jones and President Elect of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Lade Smith CBE, as part of their Women in Mind series.

Professor Jones, as President of the American Public Health Association, launched a National Campaign Against Racism in the USA in 2016.

Her conversation with Lade focused on the impacts of racism on mental health, and racism denial, and was followed by a question and answer session with the live audience at the RCPsych headquarters in London, and all of those joining remotely.

Strong evidence has shown that racism remains a problem at organisations employing psychiatrists across the UK. Recent surveys by the College, the BMA, the NHS and others have highlighted the scale of the problem.

Research has found that six in ten psychiatrists from a minoritised ethnic background have experienced racism in the workplace (RCPsych survey, 2020).

New guidance is coming

In addition to the thought-provoking and powerful interview, Lade used the opportunity to inform the audience about the College’s plans to launch new guidance later this month, helping employer organisations across the UK to tackle racism at a strategic and systemic level.

The guidance will be accompanied by a campaign called Act Against Racism, which will help the College reach leadership teams in organisations – and we will be looking for our members to help, more information will follow when the guidance launches on 26 June.

Lade said:

“Everyone should be treated fairly regardless of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender status, religion or any other characteristic. Prejudice and the discrimination that stems from it are inherently wrong and can lead to profound distress and unhappiness, which negatively affects mental well-being.

“We must act against racism and put equity at the heart of healthcare.”

RCPsych would like to thank Professor Jones for taking part in a fascinating interview.

About Professor Jones

Professor Jones is a Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London.

Her work focuses on naming, measuring, and addressing the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of the United States and the world. Her allegories on 'race' and racism illuminate topics that are otherwise difficult for many to understand or discuss: that racism exists, racism is a system, racism saps the strength of the whole society, and we can act to dismantle racism.

Professor Jones is a past president of the American Public Health Association; a commissioner on the recently launched O’Neill-Lancet Commission on Racism, Structural Discrimination, and Global Health; an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and an honorary member of the Royal Society for Public Health.

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