Research project “Racism mental health and young people of colour” (RaMePOC) examines the interconnectedness of racism and mental health, with a special focus on young people of colour (POC). By utilising feminist postcolonial and critical race theory as a theoretical approach, it critically examines the policies and practices of mental health care and their consequences on the lives of young POC in Finland and the UK.
So far, academic research on racism and mental health, and the knowledge of mental health support that takes into account and understands how racism can cause mental and physical symptoms, has been limited in Social Sciences, especially in Finland. This gap in research is addressed in RaMePOC by producing empirical data in Finland and the UK, including systematic collection and analysis of policy documents and statistics, ethnographic observations from the field of mental health work, as well as interviews with mental health professionals, practitioners, policymakers and young POC.
The empirical data will be analysed psycho-politically, which means understanding the dynamics between the societal atmosphere and the experiences of individuals related to mental health. This will expand the individual-centred thinking of mental distress by drawing attention to social and political contexts where mental health as a problem becomes created and maintained.
By purposefully focusing on the experiences and perspectives of young POC on racism and mental health, the project aims to examine the consequences of racism and racialisation at both the individual and societal levels. RaMePOC provides knowledge on how mental health policies and practices address (or do not) the experiences of racism, and how the sector of mental health care understands the intertwining of mental health with whiteness, eurocentrism, and colonialism.
At the heart of RaMePOC project is destigmatisation of both racism and mental health by identifying the societal norms that create and replicate structural racism and the stigma of mental distress. Project emphasizes the importance of understanding racism as a structural and institutional problem, rather than psychologizing racism as a mental health problem of individuals and groups who express racist opinions. The aim of the project is also to produce new vocabulary (for the Finnish context in particular) on racism and mental health and to consider what anti-racist mental health work would be like.