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Mental health of UK women, ethnic minorities badly affected during pandemic

Thursday January 7th 2021

Ethnic minorities and women have experienced worse deterioration of mental health than white men during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new UK study.

Researchers, including teams from the University of Glasgow and the University of Exeter, used data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, to compare responses from participants between 2017 and 2019 to responses from the same participants in April 2020.

14,523 individuals responded both before and during the pandemic, 91.5% of whom said they were white British, with 8.5% saying they were from a BAME background.

All participants were asked to self-report their health, including their mental wellbeing, and these responses were used to measure levels of mental distress, on a scale from 0 to 36.

The authors found that the average mental distress for all individuals had increased from 11.28 in 2017-2019 to 12.51 in April 2020.

Women experienced a greater average increase in mental distress than men, with an average increase of 1.6 units. BAME men recorded a greater average increase of 1.5 units, compared to 0.6 units among white British men. BAME women recorded an increase of 1.7 units.

Although there were only 1,066 BAME individuals who participated and mental distress was measured relatively early on in the pandemic, the research team say their findings suggest that the pandemic may have particularly affected the mental wellbeing of women and BAME individuals.

They write that their preliminary findings appear to indicate “the impact of the lockdown and social distancing requirements on mental health being worse among minority ethnic groups.”

Proto E, Quintana-Domeque C et al. COVID-19 and mental health deterioration by ethnicity and gender in the UK. PLoS ONE 6 January 2021.

[abstract]

Tags: Flu & Viruses | Mental Health | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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