As guest editor of this edition of Make a Difference News—centered around Minority Mental
Health Awareness Month—my introduction comes from a place of optimism. Despite injustices
and obstacles minorities still face in life and career, I believe progress persists.
Being a gay black entrepreneur, I’ve experienced being “different” from the status-quo in
professional arenas. One of my most vivid memories is being told by an investor, who meant
well, that I shouldn’t wear my hair braided because I was “a businessman now”. As
co-founder of a progressive workplace mental health organization, embracing individuality
and challenging such status-quos is one of our core missions, which is one of the reasons I do currently wear my hair braided.
I believe the world is slowly but surely redefining professionalism to be more inclusive of authentic self-expression. When it comes to career experiences, minorities can fall victim to discrimination and stress
around fitting in for the sake of career advancement—which can negatively impact on mental
health. Nonetheless, societies and workplaces are continually striving to eradicate
exclusionary philosophies that overlook talent based on race, gender, sexuality or
I strongly believe such progress not only stems from awareness of the social value of
inclusion, but also the realization that differences aren’t deficits, but rather sources of unique
talents, perspectives and contributions that make companies and teams richer.
This week’s selection of content highlights pioneering organizations, individuals and
initiatives which are challenging the status quo.
First, read a case study on how Google and Alphabet’s progressive CEO, Sundar Pichai has committed to build sustainable equity, including culturally sensitive mental health support, for Google’s Black+ community.
Next, Claire Farrow outlines how The UK’s Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice – who received Legal & General’s Not a Red Card Collaboration Award – are bringing together different stakeholders to address mental health through sport amongst BAME communities.
In an exclusive interview Dr. Kamel Hothi, OBE shares her journey of breaking multiple glass ceilings as a senior global business executive and a woman from a traditional cultural background.
For employers seeking to provide culturally sensitive mental health support for staff, Henry Health’s Laura Holland Stokes outlines specific steps companies can take to ensure they’re providing the most effective provisions for their diverse workforce.
Research from Kooth indicates, children and young people from BAME backgrounds are showing greater increases in mental health problems than white peers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Myself and my brother, Wesley Alston offer self-care tips approached through what we call, The Esteem Compass – which employers can suggest for minority staff (and for their families) to try at work or at home.
Finally, Heather Kelly cover’s another minority group who are susceptible to mental health problems in her interview with Garth Johnson, CEO of Auticon Canada. Johnson highlights how to best support neurodiverse staff in your workplace through his company’s recent impact report.
I hope you find this issue valuable and enjoyable.
In solidarity with progressive efforts worldwide, Johnny Alston Quinn