By Catelyn Dorsey
On May 26th, 2022 Inside Out Well-being hosted the United Kingdom’s first ever mental health awards ceremony for organisations and individuals whose work is geared towards people from racialized groups. This event marked five years since Vanessa Boachie, CEO of Inside Out Well-being started the company, and was a celebration of the growth and work we have been able to do as a team over this past demi-decade.
The Inside Out Well-being Awards was a unique celebration; rather than just commemorating our accomplishments as an organisation, we invited other charity organisations, therapists, influencers, and allies to acknowledge the work and contributions they have made to ethnically minoritised communities.
As a new member to the Inside Out Well-being team, I was so appreciative to be able to attend this event. When I walked into the venue I was blown away! Having been privy to some of the discussions leading up to the event, it was amazing to see everything come together. The environment was warm, welcoming and everyone from IOW was working together to make the event run smoothly. As our guests began to arrive, the space was quickly filling up with conversation and vibrant energy.
There was a classy and elegant atmosphere within the room as everyone was dressed in black tie attire. All of the attendees looked amazing and it was lovely to be in a room filled with intelligent, successful, diverse individuals. Looking around the room at all of the smiling faces and engaging in conversation with new people, I felt a sense of belonging. There was an element of power within the room, as I knew I was sitting amongst leaders in the mental health field, people who are already far into the career that I am still working towards.
As a young, Black, woman undertaking a doctorate in counselling psychology I am not used to being sat in spaces where the individuals present represent my background. Throughout each level of my education I have always been at predominantly-white universities, with predominantly-white classmates, lecturers and placements. I am typically comfortable in these environments, but it is hard not to feel like there is an important component missing. Perhaps an element of my own identity not being reflected back to me in the very profession I am diligently pursuing.
At the Inside Out Well-being awards, I felt understood. I have always known that I am not alone in my feelings and experiences of being ‘the only person of colour’ in mental health spaces, there are many research articles that have provided me with that knowledge. However, the Inside Out Well-being awards made me feel connected to people and resources that I can use to help alleviate these feelings. I had been pondering joining BAATN for the last year since starting my Dpsych. Meeting Jayakara and Sasha, two women from BAATN at this event, hearing their speeches and the speeches of other successful therapists who gained from being student members of their network made a huge impact on me and I joined the network just after.
To try and compact every aspect of this event into one blog post is impossible. To me, what is most important is the space Inside Out Well-being created. A space where we could celebrate the success of ethnically diverse organisations, recognise and acknowledge Black mental health, call out the disparities in treatment, and just generally come together in a safe space where everyone could feel held and understood. All of the nominee’s and award winners are an inspiration! The work they are doing is imperative to the progression of racialized groups.
Coming together within the larger group of mental health organisations allowed us to build upon our community. With a shared mission and passion for uplifting ethnic minorities through providing mental health services, it feels important for us to have and maintain a greater network. Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in the Inside Out Well-being Awards, this will not be our last!
For an inside look at the IOW Awards, watch our highlight video below!