Statement of solidarity with Azeem Rafiq

Mental Health UK issues statement of solidarity with English cricketer Azeem Rafiq.

Brian Dow
, Chief Executive  at Mental Health UK, said:

“Disgusted, tired and saddened, some of the emotions I have felt in hearing Azeem Rafiq’s experiences within cricket and how he had to survive within a culture that is institutionally racist. My thoughts are with Azeem, his family and all those that have been through similar experiences.

As someone who is passionate about mental health, what troubled me the most was that Azeem’s experience had brought him to the brink of ending his life. We know that there is a strong correlation between racial injustice and mental health.

Much of society, including notably the cricket community, has in recent years embraced the need to be open about mental health and to provide support where it is needed. While this itself is welcome, it is to a larger degree the easier bit of the equation to answer. The harder part, and the necessary part, is to challenge culture and practice within workplaces, be they cricket clubs, offices or building sites, that directly cause poor mental health. Chief amongst these are racism, discrimination and bullying.

So in reflecting on the need for the cricket community to change there is a wider lesson for all workplaces, all managers and all boards. Do we enable colleagues to bring their whole selves to work? Are colleagues within your workplace having to hide their cultural identity, religion, gender, disability and/or sexual orientation so that they can coexist within the workplace. If they are, then all the mental health initiatives in the world will not address the issue of poor mental health in your workplace.”

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