An independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession – if at first you don’t succeed, try try again, but how many chances do we need?
The sensitivity of speaking about mental health from a BAME perspective was addressed by the Mental Health Foundation in 2019 . My colleague Shannett Thompson has analysed this in her blog “Mental health within ethnic minorities and why #KindnessMatters”. The message from the Mental Health Foundation was that BAME communities “often face individual and societal challenges that can affect access to healthcare and overall mental and physical health”; reporting key issues which affect mental health in ethnic minorities such as racism and discrimination, social and economic inequalities, mental health stigma and interaction with the criminal justice system.
Shannett further explored the disparities in mental health amongst the BAME communities by exploring the Race Equality Foundation report, which ultimately concluded that “black and minority ethnic communities are vulnerable to a range of mental health issues. They also have poorer experiences when they use mental health services and experience gaps in the provision of services which meet their cultural and linguistic needs.”
Shannett ended her blog by suggesting ways we could be kinder to each other and how we can overcome this stigma. I cannot speak for the masses, but below are things that I now do to keep my mental health fit:
The legal profession is demanding. We have many tasks on the go with deadlines that often overlap and come a lot quicker than hoped. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed, and if not tackled effectively, it can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. In no way do I seek to underplay how complex mental health is, but I have found that what works for me is taking a pause and breathing. I take a moment and regain focus. It sounds simple, but that extra moment to breathe and slow down helps me regain control.
Reading books which address mental health issues in the BAME community show me that sometimes my own struggles are actually “normal”. I have joined Kingsley Napley’s BAME book club which encourages active discussions based on the issues addressed in the books, which gets us talking about our own struggles. This leads to my next tactic, talking.
Admittedly the hardest for me to put into practice, but talking about our mental health is significant in overcoming this stigma. Shannett highlighted this so well, “Talk about mental health within our ethnic communities, which is also key to helping ease the stigma attached to it.” Talking has traditionally been perceived as a sign of weakness in many BAME communities, and we convince ourselves that nothing is wrong, whilst deep down our problems continue to cause our mental health to deteriorate. However, although I’m still not an “open book” and I do often struggle to talk, I realise that in moments when I do express my problems, the sense of relief is liberating. Sometimes we need the confidence to start these discussions and talks, and I have found joining BAME groups which encourage active talking is a step in the right direction.
During low moments of self-doubt, I have found myself regaining mental focus by listening to motivational music and speeches on platforms such as YouTube. I am sure I speak for most of us when I say that we have all, at some time, been lost in the abyss of YouTube during sleepless nights (top 10 mysteries of the ocean being a go to topic), but listening to motivational music and watching inspirational videos helps to channel out the negative thoughts, and gives me a fresh perspective on what I want to achieve; a strong, healthy and positive mind-set.
Mental health is important, and although it is evident that the BAME community is still struggling, it is clear that everyone has their own way of dealing with it. My list is non-exhaustive, and by no means a remedy for everyone, but if you take anything away from this blog, please let it be to take a second away from our hectic lives and just breathe.
As a firm, we have had many discussions about BAME and Black Lives Matter and how we can make a difference to the movement. We wanted to do more than just put out a statement of support - we wanted to take substantive action to address the inequalities faced by Black people and other ethnic minorities. As part of this, we are publishing a series of blogs from our varying practice areas highlighting what we are doing, how you can make a difference and shining a light on the issues. The blog series can be found here.
Satvir Sokhi is an Associate in Kingsley Napley’s Medical Negligence and Personal Injury team.
We were recently excited and grateful to announce that Kingsley Napley was named in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2022 of Top 100 Employers List for LGBTQ+ people. While it is vital for workplaces to commit to inclusion and create a welcoming environment for their LGBTQ+ staff, the annual celebration of Trans Day of Visibility (TDoV) importantly draws attention to the critical need for more meaningful visibility in the media and beyond in order to pave the way for trans liberation in wider society.
Few would disagree with the suggestion that, in order to really understand an artwork and the full extent of its cultural resonance, one needs to know something about the artist who made it.
Our 2022 report provides an overview of our activities and initiatives across the broad spectrum of diversity. It also includes our statistics for gender, ethnicity, and disability, which reflect our aim of creating a workforce that is fully representative of UK society, at all levels of the business.
The UK Government proposals to ban conversion therapy fall short and risk criminalising gender identity counselling services.
On 29 October 2021 the Government launched a consultation on restricting conversion therapy. Although the Government proposals are a step in the right direction, it only limits conversion therapy rather than banning it outright.
When I became Senior Partner of Kingsley Napley in 2018, I made a very clear pledge to the firm – that I would make it one of my key objectives to increase diverse talent and foster a culture of inclusivity.
Marcia Longdon was recently asked about her journey into law and whether she had a story to share. Marcia initially thought that she didn't have a story. However, as the interview unfolded, the interviewer looked over the camera and said, er, are you sure? So here it is.
A question that emerges for Black people all over Britain every October is “How can I celebrate the stories of those that have come before me?” In contrast the question that naturally comes to mind for those who are not of Black origin is “If I’m not Black how do I participate in Black History?” Whilst the questions appear to be different there is a common theme – both query how people can do Black History month justice, both have a desire to adequately celebrate a rich history that means so much to so many. But rest assured you should feel comfortable and welcome to celebrate the history of another culture.
Celebrating this year’s Black History Month (BHM) with is powerful campaign, “Proud to Be”, is an apt time for us all to consider why we (should) care about Black history and culture.
When Black History Month was established in the United States, over a century ago, it was intended as a way to celebrate and give national recognition to black stories and perspectives.
At Kingsley Napley, we believe in the power of diverse and representative stories and we have found some wonderful and effective ways to share them that you might like to try too.
The visibility of the “B” in our LGBTQ+ umbrella is marked every year on 23 September. At Kingsley Napley, we are proud to have bisexual members of our LGBTQ+ and Allies Network and strive for everyone to feel like they can be themselves and bring their whole selves to work. Outside KN, and in this year alone, Robin has come out as bisexual in the new Batman comic, more awareness has been raised about bisexuality with celebrities, such as Megan Fox, Lily Cole, speaking out and there is more representation of bisexual people in mainstream shows, such as Sex Education, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
To mark Suicide Prevention Day and raise awareness of the prevalence of deaths by suicide in the UK, Kingsley Napley is set to host a mental health panel discussion on 10 September 2021.
On the 28 July 2021, the Government unveiled the highly anticipated National Disability Strategy (‘the strategy’). Pledged in the Government’s 2019 manifesto, the aim is to “improve the everyday lives of disabled people”. The Prime Minister described the strategy as the most comprehensive, concerted, cross-government plan relating to disability ever. A bold claim, but is it justified?
Whilst our Muslim colleagues and friends celebrate over communal meals and prayer, it is also a time for us at Kingsley Napley to reflect on the importance of observing and respecting the cultural and religious differences of others. We are motivated to make Kingsley Napley a place which is not only diverse, but also inclusive, where all our people feel able to bring their true selves to work.
When I told some of my friends I was writing a piece about drag activism, their reaction was almost unanimous…
"Oh, but, is there much to say?"
That's when I realised that drag queens, for many, are more synonymous with big hair and lip-syncing pop hits rather than political consciousness and activism. You can certainly understand the reason for this - we have been totally spoiled in recent years with the explosion of Ru Paul’s Drag Race around the world - the make-up, talents and confidence being a feast for the eyes (and the soul). But we cannot minimise the political importance of Mama Ru’s creation. Who could forget numbers such as “Shady Politics”; the discussions of gay conversion therapy while applying make-up; and Bob the Drag Queen describing his arrest during a 2011 marriage equality protest? Not to mention Nancy Pelosi sashaying into the All Stars season…
Coming out is an extremely personal journey and will be unique to each person. It takes a lot of courage to come out and a person may have to repeatedly do this in their personal and professional lives. Statistics show that 46% of people who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual and 47% of people who identify as trans feel comfortable to discuss their orientation or gender identity.
How can you put the spotlight on intersectionality to remind others that, even within the LGBTQ+ community, not everyone is treated equal?
Are you proud of who you are, your journey and the person that you’ve become? Do you truly wear your heart on your sleeve? For some, being open and honest about who we are (which includes our gender identity or sexuality) does not come easily and can be extremely hard. It can be even tougher at work, and for those that hide their true self, the energy expenditure is endless. That survival cost of energy makes you less productive, or even worse still, it has a detrimental impact on your mental and physical health.
I am a trans woman who has recently embarked on her transition. Having only taken my first steps on this journey, I am acutely aware when writing this that I have much to learn about myself, about being trans, and about the diverse LGBTQ+ family that I now find myself part of. However, there is one theme that I feel is important to discuss as we celebrate Pride in 2021.
Following on from my colleague Sameena Munir’s blog ‘’pray the gay away: cull conversion therapy worldwide’’, the issue of gay conversion therapy dominates contemporary conversations surrounding LGBT politics and legislation in the UK, but the Government has failed to deliver on its promise to ban it.
For two weeks during Pride month, Kingsley Napley are publishing a series of blogs to celebrate Pride and highlight LGBTQ+ issues from home and abroad.
It’s been 9 years since R&B artist Frank Ocean headed off rumours about his particular pronoun usage in the album Channel Orange by posting on Tumblr that his first love had been a man. Since then, the momentum for the openness and success of queer artists has continued to gather pace, and LGBTQ+ representation in the arts and mainstream media is as wide as it has ever been. This rise has however raised important questions about pigeonholing queer artists, and perhaps most interestingly whether they must always shoulder the responsibility of ‘pushing the agenda’.
In February this year, I attended a virtual talk held by the InterLaw Diversity Forum for LGBT+ History Month. The speakers featured individuals working in the legal sector and each discussed their experience of coming out as trans or non-binary at work. It feels an apt lesson given this year’s Pride theme: Visibility, Unity and Equality.
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