The Intersections of Minority Mental Health: #BeyondStigma

Over the past two months or so, Identity International has been involved in a minority mental health project as part of our #BeyondStigma campaign. Through this, I've had the opportunity to have conversations regarding personal experiences as minorities suffering from mental health issues but also with experts in the field, giving their professional and personal thoughts on the matter. I'm now in the process of publishing an academic paper on this topic- you can view the pre-print here

It's no hidden fact that COVID-19 and the lockdowns of 2020 have had an enormous impact on our mental health as a global population, but as an ethnic minority- there's been the added sensationalisation of our exposure, burden and mortality from the pandemic which is disproportionate to those of white ethnic backgrounds. Understandably, this has had a toll on minority mental health in the UK, where BAME (black and ethnic minority) men were found to be suffering worse mental health outcomes compared to the rest of the UK population in 2020 (1,2). Within this, it's men of South Asian descent that are suffering the most. This was further emphasised in my conversations with both Dr Afzal and Judy who spoke about increasing mental health admissions over the lockdown periods and heightened fears from ethnic minorities about a potential genetic vulnerability to the disease.

In my paper(3), I highlighted the three key reasons why minority mental health needs more attention; discrimination, access stigma and quality of care. Below is a summary:

  • Discrimination

- Muslim populations in the UK have been known as a marginalised population from as early as 2001 and have “high concentrations in areas of multiple deprivation” (4)

- Since then, no other studies examining the spatial geographies and ethnicities of Muslims in Britain or London has been found.

- Those with stronger Muslim American identities had worse mental health consequences in the face of discrimination (5).

- Furthermore, discrimination was found to trigger PTSD symptoms directly and exacerbate PTSD symptoms related to traumatic events (6).

- This can be further compounded by racial biases, where the Care Quality Commission of 2018(7), suggested BAME groups are 4 times more likely to be involuntarily admitted to hospital for mental health issues, with Black ethnic groups at a higher risk (6).

  • Access Stigma

- In the UK, so far-there are no governmental outreach campaigns to increase awareness of mental health support within these communities.

- Muslim communities specifically, (which have been proven to be a marginalised community both religiously, ethnically, racially and socioeconomically) are disempowered in the utilisation of these services (8,9).

- More than 60% of the British orthodox Jewish community stated that they don’t feel like any mental health professional would understand their situation (10).

- There is a need for much more research in this area that also focuses on barriers for men from varying ethnic backgrounds, specifically in Black African/Caribbean communities, undocumented migrants and refugees/asylum seekers.

  • Quality of Care