COVID-19 more likely to hit mental health of BAME men, study shows

COVID-19 has replicated and in some cases increased health inequalities between BAME and non-BAME individuals.

Lung cells infected with coronavirus (photo credit: YAAKOV NAHMIAS)
Lung cells infected with coronavirus
(photo credit: YAAKOV NAHMIAS)
Mental health of men from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds is more likely to be hit by COVID-19 than white British men the same age, study finds. But ethnicity has no impact on women's declining mental health.
The impact of lockdown caused by COVID-19 on different ethnic groups was evaluated and compared with research from the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School and University of Exeter Business School.
The study used data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) of 14,289 people who were interviewed both from 2017-19 and again in April 2020.
"Using a 12-question General Health Questionnaire – a screening device for identifying minor psychiatric disorders – which creates an aggregate score for participants’ mental health, BAME men reported a 14% deterioration in their mental health from 2017-19 to April 2020, but for white British males the deterioration was smaller at just 6.5%," announced the study. "Women also struggled with their mental health during lockdown, experiencing a similar drop-off in their mental health to BAME men, but ethnicity was not found to have played a significant role."
"It seems that South Asian individuals are paying the heaviest toll. Black individuals seem very resilient. Although, this is not to say that they are not affected," said Prof. Eugenio Proto of the Adam Smith Business School, the study's co-author.
The study showed that men of Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani legacy saw the sharpest decline in their mental well-being during lockdown, with the difference in their two mental health scores showing a 23% increase in mental distress.
After eliminating the influence of factors such as age, location, income, education, job type, employment status and family structure, similar differences in mental health deterioration by ethnic groups were found.
The study said that while existing reports and studies, including from Public Health England, have established that COVID-19 has replicated and in some cases increased health inequalities between BAME and non-BAME individuals, these have mainly focused on physical – and not mental – health.   
  
University of Exeter Business School's Prof. Climent Quintana-Domeque said: "Much more work is needed to understand the sources of ethnic inequalities and better inform the design of effective policy responses."