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Homeland star calls for more diversity in mental health leaders

Actor David Harewood, who experienced psychosis in his 20s, says senior nurses and clinicians must be more representative of populations they serve, and staff need support to climb career ladder
Actor David Harewood, who says mental health clinical leadership should be more representative of the diverse populations it serves

Actor David Harewood, who experienced psychosis in his 20s, says senior nurses and clinicians must be more representative of populations they serve, and staff need support to climb career ladder

Mental health clinical leadership should be more representative of the diverse populations it serves, actor David Harewood has told an RCN event.

Mr Harewood, who was treated for psychosis in his early 20s, said black and minority ethnic nurses needed to be better supported to climb the career ladder.

Black and minority ethnic staff as senior clinical leaders in mental health

The star of the television series Homeland, who produced a documentary on

Actor David Harewood, who experienced psychosis in his 20s, says senior nurses and clinicians must be more representative of populations they serve, and staff need support to climb career ladder

Actor David Harewood, who says mental health clinical leadership should be more representative of the diverse populations it serves
David Harewood Picture: Alamy

Mental health clinical leadership should be more representative of the diverse populations it serves, actor David Harewood has told an RCN event.

Mr Harewood, who was treated for psychosis in his early 20s, said black and minority ethnic nurses needed to be better supported to climb the career ladder.

Black and minority ethnic staff as senior clinical leaders in mental health

The star of the television series Homeland, who produced a documentary on his own mental health struggles, told the RCN event about what it means to be a person of colour navigating the healthcare system.

‘When I was sectioned I didn’t see any black staff,’ he said. ‘I didn’t see any other black patients. I was alone on that ward. I was given four times the legal limit of sedatives. That was purely to control me and keep me pliant.
Had there been senior nurses of colour on the ward at that time they might have been able to take better care of me.’

Black people are four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act, but make up just 9% of all nurses and health visitors in England (31,993 out of 346,802) and 3% of senior NHS managers (eight out of 240). In mental health, 11% of staff identify as black, according to NHS Digital figures.

Call for services redesign to support under-served groups

Backing the RCN’s calls for mental health clinical leadership to be more representative of its service users, Mr Harewood said: ‘Staff need to be supported to rise up the ladder so people can speak out and advocate for better working practices and not face retribution.’

RCN professional lead for mental health Stephen Jones said: ‘Achieving such an aim will help turn the tide in terms of creating an inclusive and responsive organisational culture for all.’

The event also heard how the causes of mental health problems, including systemic racism, must be tackled and services redesigned to better support under-served groups.


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