Black Lives Matter at Headspace Guildford

This post is jointly written by Jemima Onih and Dr Ellie Atkins as part of the work we are doing as a practice to be more thoughtful and inclusive. We have taken our time to produce this as we were keen not to be tokenistic or write something which did not mean anything beyond the words on the page. We wanted to move beyond paternalistic comments on issues that we believe need to change, but also know we also recognise our position as one where we are part of the problem. We are still thinking and learning and welcome feedback on this journey.

The Black Lives Matter movement is a movement that is not only impacting our today, but it is shaping our tomorrow. BLM strives to fight for the freedom and justice for all black people oppressed by systemic and institutionalized racism. Here at Headspace Guildford, we believe it is not only important, but crucial that we also stand in solidarity with those who are fighting against the many types of inequality that exists in our world today. Our practice supports children, young people and families around their mental health and emotional wellbeing. We are only too aware of the negative impact that racism and discrimination have on people’s emotional health.

Headspace Guildford is passionate about understanding the complexity of each patient. This starts with the first time we talk with you and continues throughout your journey with us. We are a small practice committed to knowing everyone by name and understanding what has brought them to the place where they are today. We understand that many complex factors can result in people struggling and those include the many types of marginalisation, victimisation, discrimination and unfair treatment that many people have to suffer. We believe we are only effective in helping you when we fully understand you as an individual and collaborate together. This starts from our first telephone call, is continued in our comprehensive assessment session and moves into our work where we collaboratively make sense of what is happening. We see our clients (children and parents) as experts in their own lives and strive to learn from you.

Our practice strives to incorporate a more holistic approach in our therapy sessions and therefore, the inequality and injustice experienced by marginalised communities such as those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and low socioeconomic backgrounds cannot be ignored. For this reason we are actively involved in the ‘Psychologists for social change’ movement, work to educate ourselves, use supervision to consider and challenging our own practice and always strive to find ways to do our best for every person, and in particular those experiencing discrimination or repression.

We know we must do more and we are actively working to ensure that Headspace Guildford is a practice where all patients irrespective of race, gender and socioeconomic status, feel heard, equal and understood. We believe it is crucial to be educated on; systematic and institutionalized racism, the experiences of those from low socioeconomic backgrounds and many other inequalities that exist in our world today.

This is not a time for silence, and we want you to know that we see the issues that face the black community, we see the issues that face other marginalised communities and want to do our part in ensuring that the psychological wellbeing of all remains a priority. If you think we could be doing more please let us know. We are strongest when we work together for the good of everyone.

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