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BAME groups’ mental health worse during pandemic

15 July 2020

A survey of over 14,000 adults by the mental health charity Mind has revealed that existing inequalities in housing, employment, finances and other issues have had a greater impact on the mental health of people from different black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) groups than white people during the coronavirus pandemic.

The online survey of over 25s in England and Wales found:

  • Almost one in three (30 per cent) BAME people said problems with housing made their mental health worse during the pandemic, compared to almost one in four (23%) white people.
  • Employment worries have negatively affected the mental health of 61% of BAME people, compared to 51% of white people
  • Concerns about finances worsened the mental health of 52% of people who identified as BAME, compared to 45% of those who identified as white.
  • Other issues saw a similar pattern, including getting support for a physical health problem (39% vs 29%) and being a carer (30% vs 23%).

Overall mental health and the impact of the pandemic on wellbeing were around the same for all groups - with around three in five (60%) adults saying their mental health has got worse during lockdown - but the charity says the findings raise concerns that the fall-out of the pandemic will disproportionately affect some communities far into the future.

The immediate impact of isolation, fears about the virus itself and inadequate access to NHS mental health services will, for many, ease as lockdown is lifted and life starts to return to normal. However, problems with housing, employment and finances will likely last for much longer and become worse as the emergency government measures introduced to protect people from evictions, unemployment and redundancy - including furlough, better Statutory Sick Pay and Universal Credit - come to an end. This is particularly worrying given demand for advice to help people with housing, benefits and finances is already higher among BAME communities. Survey respondents who identified as BAME were more likely than those who identified as White to need advice about money and benefits (40% vs 24%) and housing (19% vs 10%) to help manage their mental health.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “This survey yet again underlines the significant inequalities experienced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people. Whether it is employment, housing, finance or getting support for a physical health problem, the challenges faced by BAME groups are worse than those within the wider population. Disability organisations must do more to reach out to BAME disabled people, engage people in what we do and support people’s voices to be heard.”