Kawa (38) is a psychologist and chairperson of a mental health care association

‘Providing good care means knowing that everyone is different, and then treating people equally.’

Her accusations proved true

I once had a client from a migrant background in my practice with psychotic symptoms. She accused her GP of racism and said she was not taken seriously. I remember that we saw those allegations as symptoms of psychosis. Later it turned out that there was some truth to her accusations.

People that look like us

I often see that white, ‘well-educated’ patients are taken more seriously than others. People run a little faster for them. Unconsciously we treat people who look like us better than people who are different. You can see this not just in healthcare but also in the treatment of Ukrainian refugees compared to non-European refugees.

Inferior care

If you want to provide good care, you have to be aware of that mechanism. It is unacceptable that a large group of people in the Netherlands receive inferior care solely because they have a different origin, sex, colour, gender or sexual orientation than the norm.

Equal treatment

I work at a practice with a very diverse population. I sometimes see trainees with the best intentions spend ten minutes asking where a client comes from, purely out of interest. But if a white person is sitting across from them, they do not do that. It is not pleasant for a patient if a healthcare provider emphasises the differences. You have to be aware of it, but you do not have to focus on it in your approach and communication. The most important thing is to listen well and take someone seriously. And to treat everyone equally.