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COVID-19, mental health and ethnic minorities
  1. Katharine Smith1,2,
  2. Kamaldeep Bhui1,3,4,
  3. Andrea Cipriani1,2
  1. 1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  2. 2 Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK
  3. 3 Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  4. 4 East London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Andrea Cipriani, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK; andrea.cipriani{at}psych.ox.ac.uk

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COVID-19 has evolved rapidly into a pandemic with global impacts. However, as the pandemic has developed, it has become increasingly evident that the risks of COVID-19, both in terms of infection rates and particularly of severe complications, are not equal across all members of society. While general risk factors for hospital admission with COVID-19 infection include age, male sex and specific comorbidities (eg, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes), there is increasing evidence that people identifying with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groupsi have disproportionately higher risks of being adversely affected by COVID-19 in the UK and the USA. The ethnic disparities include overall numbers of cases, as well as the relative numbers of critical care admissions and deaths.1

In the area of mental health, for people from BAME groups, even before the current pandemic there were already significant mental health inequalities.2 These inequalities have been increased by the pandemic in several ways. The constraints of quarantine have made access to traditional face-to-face support from mental health services more difficult in general. This difficulty will increase pre-existing inequalities where there are challenges to engaging people in care and in providing early access to services. The restrictions may also reduce the flexibility of care offers, given the need for social isolation, limiting non-essential travel and closure of routine clinics. The service impacts are compounded by constraints on the use of non-traditional or alternative routes to care and support.

In addition, there is growing evidence of specific mental health consequences from significant COVID-19 infection, with increased rates …

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