Covid-19: understanding inequalities in mental health during the pandemic

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Louis Allwood and Andy Bell
18 June 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought health inequalities into sharp focus. The unequal impacts of the virus are also extending inequalities in mental health.

This briefing paper, produced by Centre for Mental Health and supported by 13 other national mental health charities, explores the mental health inequalities that are associated with the pandemic in the UK. It finds that the virus and the lockdown are putting greater pressure on groups and communities whose mental health was already poorer and more precarious.

Groups of people whose mental health is at greatest risk include those with existing mental health problems, people with long-term physical conditions, women and children experiencing violence and abuse, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. The combination of existing structural inequalities and the unequal impacts of the pandemic mean that people whose mental health was at greatest risk prior to Covid-19 are likely to bear the brunt of the emergency longer term.

The briefing paper calls on the Government to take urgent action to address race inequality in mental health, including the urgent need for funding for organisations working in communities that have been affected most deeply by the pandemic. It calls for action to ensure people with mental health problems have access to food and medicine as well as continued financial safety-nets for those at greatest risk from the virus. And it calls for longer term action, including to build on the positive steps that have already been taken to prevent homelessness and improve the benefits system.


 

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The coronavirus pandemic is a physical health emergency on a global scale, such as we have never seen in our lifetimes. But it is also a mental health emergency.

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