Statement from RCPsych on racism and the death of George Floyd

Statement / comment
02 June 2020

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has reaffirmed its total opposition to all forms of racism everywhere in the world, in light of the killing of George Floyd in the US last week.

It is a cruel injustice that is abhorrent in itself, but also has a dramatic negative effect on the physical and mental health of all citizens, especially people in Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

The President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Professor Wendy Burn said: “The Royal College of Psychiatrists condemns racism and violence in all its forms and the horrific death of George Floyd will have affected the mental well-being of everyone who has witnessed it and who may fear similar consequences for their own health and safety.

“We all need to act against racial inequalities and discrimination that are life-threatening and harm health and societal cohesion for so many people around the world. We must act to protect and improve the lives of those facing discrimination and the associated traumatic consequences.

"George Floyd's death and the subsequent events on the streets of cities around the USA serve as a dreadful reminder of how the psychological and physical violence of racism creates pain, fear and a sense of injustice which can fuel violent protest, causing further harm to individuals and society.”

She added: “We recognise that racism and racial discrimination is one of many factors which can have a significant, negative impact on a person’s life chances and mental health. We too must acknowledge that this is not just an American problem, it is a world problem and the UK has its own history of racism and injustice. 

“We are particularly concerned about the disproportionate impact on people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, notably those of Black African and Black Caribbean heritage.

“Efforts to tackle this should be urgently prioritised in the US, UK, and other nations by government, non-governmental organisations and professional bodies.”

Read the RCPsych policy on racism and mental health.