Black History Month 2021: reflections from Demice Watson
01 October, 2021
Part of our celebration of Black History Month involves recognising those within the mental health space who would otherwise go unnoticed. We spoke to Demice Watson, a Recovery Mental Health Practitioner from Liverpool. She spoke to us about her role, her experience being black in mental health, and how racism has transformed over a very testy 18 months.
How has your mental health changed over the past 12 months?
"My mental health over the last 12 months has been pushed to the limits at times. I think during the pandemic a lot of people have struggled as we were forced to spend time with ourselves and really focus on our health.
"Being a key worker and a mother whilst dealing with the fear of the pandemic has been challenging, however it has shown me how strong I really am."
Has being black in mental health changed (for the better or worse)?
"Being from Liverpool and working in the city, I have not had the pleasure of working with any fellow black professionals within the mental health sector so for me personally I would say that it’s not changed in my local area.
"I think people are aware that there is a stigma around mental health in certain cultures which we are trying to tackle, but equally I feel to do so we need black representation in the field for those who are in minorities to feel safe and comfortable talking about their mental health.
"We are living in a beautifully diverse society and I believe our health services should reflect that to implement the change we need."
Has the UK progressed or regressed in dealing with racism?
"I believe the UK had progressed with dealing with racism but not in a substantial enough way for us to celebrate change. Although blatant racism may be slightly lower, racism in the form of microaggression, internalised racism and systematic racism are still very much a part of society, and I think until we educate the uneducated and diversify our workplaces, schools and services we will not see a racism free future."