How the capital is facing a new impact of Coronavirus as a result of the previous lockdown and in the light of new quarantine restrictions.
Since the beginning of the UK’s experience with the Covid-19 pandemic, the term ‘BAME’ has been widely mentioned amongst the many impacts on jobs, mental health and the environment reported in the news and by government officials. The reason for this? Data and statistics have shown a correlation between Covid-19 and an increased risk for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. Initially this risk was one which saw one third of individuals being admitted to intensive care units being BAME despite only representing 14% of the population.
These statistics should not have come as such a shock with BAME communities continuously throughout British history having lesser access to reliable housing, living in higher risk areas with high crime rates: these areas have been disproportionately impacted due to the socio-economic positions of residents being lower than average.
Only recently, the government refused to extend free school meal vouchers to children whose parents’ jobs and incomes were most likely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This again disproportionately affected youth from underprivileged areas, of which three London boroughs, Islington, Hackney and Camden, house some of the largest populations of children eligible for free school meals in the country.
One can only imagine how stressful all of the disproportionately felt impacts of the pandemic on individuals are. It should come as no surprise then that Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities across the country have also been suffering with a far more insidious and invisible issue, mental health. Individuals from especially traditional cultures may also face the additional problem of stigmatisation of mental health issues within their own community.
With London being home to 60% of the UK’s Black population and 50% of the Bangladeshi population, it is culturally very diverse. Despite this, there is dwindling trust and support between these communities and the National Health Service, an issue resulting from miscommunication and increasing pressure on the NHS as a whole. Mental health, an issue which has been so greatly fought for to gain wider recognition as a serious matter, has fallen through the cracks yet again, increasing inequalities further.
The reason for worsening inequality has largely been from the effects of quarantine, with families of Black and Caribbean backgrounds being more likely to rent social housing than their white counterparts. These styles of housing are notoriously known to often be in bad condition and lacking upkeep. This combined with low incomes fails to facilitate the making of a ‘home’. Increased time spent at home added to a lack of accessible outdoor space and nature – which would be stimulating to the human mind and feelings of safety – due to crime rates in areas with social housing create an unhealthy environment for people’s mental health. Restrictions on non-essential travel and the reduced provision of social care in deprived and inner-city locations have also resulted in higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Though this problem is the result of a larger institutional capacity to provide sufficient care and support for the population, there are a few things we can do to help one another with mental health.
- Check in with your neighbours, friends and family
- Invest in joining a local mutual aid group in your area
- Take time to meditate, go for a socially distanced walk and perhaps take up a hobby such as reading
If you have any concerns about yourself or an individual:
See Samaritans’ tips on how to start a difficult conversation.
Rethink also has advice on how to support someone who is having suicidal thoughts.
These free helplines are there to help when you’re feeling down or desperate.
Unless it says otherwise, they’re open 24 hours a day, every day.
Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number will not show up on your phone bill