People’s Health Trust exists to improve health in the communities that face the greatest health inequalities. Today it launches its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) statement and plan. These reflect its understanding that experience of racism and other forms of discrimination and oppression are not only a profound injustice but also a significant determinant of health.
A growing body of international research reveals how discrimination affects health in many ways. It is not only a profound injustice that affects the widely recognised determinants of health, such as work, income and housing status but also gets under the skin, damaging our mental and physical health through stress pathways.
Research by Kings College London and UCL concluded that “those who reported racial discrimination had poorer self-rated health, poorer physical functioning scores and a greater likelihood of having limiting longstanding illness than those who did not”. Research into discrimination and health in Europe found in the United Kingdom was the country with the highest rate of perceived discrimination in Europe. It identified that different types of discrimination affect health in different ways, describing age and disability discrimination as "an invisible part of our everyday lives”. Additionally, an important meta-analytic review of multiple studies found negative effects of discrimination, regardless of the type, however that the most effective way of coping with discrimination stress may vary by ethnicity, culture and gender.
People’s Health Trust Trustee, Leandra Box, said:
“We know from recent research that discrimination has a negative impact on both mental and physical health. As a charity committed to tackling health inequalities, it is critical that we lay out clearly our intention and actions in being anti-racist and anti-oppression organisation - as a funder, an employer and as a wider member of the voluntary and community sector.”
Jenny Edwards, Chair of People’s Health Trust, said:
“The experience of the last two years resulted in high illness and deaths for many communities who experience racism and other discrimination. A growing but significant body of research reveals discrimination to be a major determinant of health. We are determined to reflect that reality and will work to change it through all aspects of our work. Our statement and plan set us on that journey. We encourage others to join us in recognising discrimination as a determinant of health and acting to combat it.”
The seven commitments in the statement will direct the actions and intent of the charity as funder, partner and employer. People’s Health Trust will continue to support the communities who are the most adversely affected by health inequalities and to provide platforms for people who are less frequently heard.