The unequal impact of the pandemic has gone beyond the physical risk associated with contracting the virus – it has also extended itself to mental health and wellbeing. Lockdown measures have put greater pressure on groups and communities whose mental health was already poorer, including those from BAME (‘Black, Asian and minority ethnic’) and marginalised communities.
We are often told that mental health doesn’t discriminate, and that one in four of us will be experiencing some kind of mental health difficulty at any one time. While these statements are true, very often it is people who have the least power, autonomy and wealth who have the poorest chances of enjoying good mental health.
As one would expect, racism has been linked to a range of poor mental health outcomes, including anxiety and depression. Those who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic are the very same affected by systemic racism. It is being described as a ‘dual crisis’, or ‘dual viruses’, of racism and Covid-19 faced by people of colour – some regarding racism as a public health issue.
Multiple inequalities have been observed in relation to coronavirus. Age / long-term physical health conditions aside, it is also now becoming clear that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities face a higher mortality rate with the virus than white people. The reasons for this remain unclear, but there may be numerous explanations, including biological, economic and environmental.