In the early stages of the Coronavirus media reports, the overall message suggested that individuals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities were relatively unaffected by the virus. This was inferred from the small amounts of confirmed cases in places such as Africa and the Caribbean.
However, in the UK, the figures indicate a disproportionate number of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals, contracting the virus and dying from it in comparison to their white peers.
The announcement of these figures opened up a whole host of questions, conversations and concerns about genetic predispositions, structural racism, socioeconomic status and more. Putting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals under the spotlight both in the media and in everyday life.
What has been the impact on individuals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities?
When looking into the impact of Coronavirus on young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, Kooth found that there was a significant increase in suicidal thoughts, sleep difficulties, anxiety, stress, self-harm concerns and depression in comparison to their white peers.
We are yet to look into the same impact with our adult service users. However, it would seem likely that there would be an increase in similar issues. Especially, considering the reports in the media about the treatment of people from these communities, following the release of the incidences figures. This, coupled with the exposure of the general trends of inequality people from these backgrounds face in the UK, and the emotional consequences of lockdown and bereavement, highlights the possibility of a significant negative emotional impact on the mental wellbeing of people from these communities.
What does this mean for the mental wellbeing of individuals from these communities?
It is important for individuals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities to be aware of how the media reports and the way people treat them might affect their mental wellbeing. Especially as, many people from these communities may already be struggling (consciously and or subconsciously) with the emotional consequences of trauma (that may have been passed down through generations) generational trauma and racism as part of their day to day lives.
It is important to acknowledge what has been happening as a result of the virus, such as having messages and images of your mortality and difference reinforced on a daily basis by reports in the media, and/or being treated differently when out in shops, at work or walking down the road.
“Keeping calm and carrying on” is not always the best thing for mental wellbeing, as these things can have a lasting negative impact.
Without definite cures for the virus, these constantly reinforced messages are very likely to bring about feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, panic and fear (just to name a few) to those individuals who are mostly affected. So, it is important that attention is paid to the emotional consequences of this current time.
What things do I need to be aware of?
In order to be aware of how things are affecting you, you need to pay attention to changes within yourself. This could be emotional changes such as lower or heightened moods; mental changes such as changes in thought patterns; and or physical changes such as tension stored in the body.
Everyone will be affected differently depending on their circumstances, and it can be helpful to keep a note of what is happening for you physically, mentally and emotionally to help you become more aware of any changes. It can also be helpful to ask loved ones if they have noticed anything different about you in these areas too.
What can I do if I am struggling?
As mentioned before, there are many different ways in which people might be struggling. And because of this, it would be hard to provide an exhaustive list here. However, we have a few general tips to get you started and you can always drop into chat with one of our practitioners for more personalised support:
- Take some time out to do things that raise your emotional frequency.
- By this we mean doing things you enjoy (where possible). You may need to adapt some activities so that they can be done inside, and or at a safe distance from others. Start off by making a list of all the things that you can engage in that make you happy, and keep that close by to refer back to when you need it.
2. Talk about your worries and fears.
- This one is not always an easy one, but it’s one that can be really beneficial to your mental wellbeing. For example, if you notice your thoughts become more negatively skewed, talk to a friend, family member or even a professional to help ease the weight that comes with holding these things in.
3. Engage in regular body scans.
- This one can take some getting used to if you are not familiar with doing it, but the idea is to scan your body for tension and relax as much of it as possible. Start by paying attention to your head, and work your way down your body until you get to your toes. Tension is often stored in less obvious places such as the jaw, shoulders, stomach and toes. So, pay close attention to these areas and relax them if you can.