Young Black men’s mental health has been hit hard by the pandemic and urgent cross-government action is needed now to avoid jeopardising their futures, according to a briefing published today by Centre for Mental Health.
Young Black men’s mental health during Covid-19 explores evidence of the unequal effects of Covid-19 on young Black men, including evidence from the Shifting the Dial project in Birmingham that Centre for Mental Health is evaluating.
The report found that disruption to education is widening inequalities experienced by young Black men, who are more likely to be excluded and have their grades underpredicted
Young Black men aged 16-25 are among the hardest hit by job losses and are more likely to report a fall in income because of lockdown
It also found that Covid-19 enforcement and policing are disproportionately affecting young Black men, who are much more likely to be stopped and searched and issued fines for breaching lockdown measures
And as a result of some of these challenges, young Black men are at risk of higher levels of mental distress during the pandemic compared to other groups.
Centre for Mental Health head of children and young people Kadra Abdinasir said: ‘The pandemic and the recent wave of the Black Lives Matter movement have shone a spotlight on structural racism in the UK. Young Black men are caught at the intersection between the current crisis and longstanding inequalities. They are bearing the brunt, and the worst may be yet to come.
‘Young Black men have been overlooked in the pandemic response. Even before the pandemic, they faced significant mental health inequalities and were less likely to have their needs appropriately met by mainstream mental health services.
‘It is now essential that concerted action is taken to prevent the current crisis from blighting young Black men’s lives long-term.’
The briefing calls for urgent cross-government action to address the inequalities faced by young Black men, and to offer tailored support to protect their mental health and future prospects.
The NHS should invest in specific support for young Black men, including work directly with community organisations and efforts to build a more representative mental health care workforce.
The briefing also calls for targeted educational and employment support for young Black men, a moratorium on all school exclusions in the aftermath of the pandemic, and a review into their policing during the pandemic.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We know the last year has been particularly difficult and we are committed to supporting everyone’s mental health and wellbeing.
‘We have provided the largest funding in NHS history with an additional £2.3bn a year by 2023/24 to transform mental health services for all, along with an additional £500m announced in the recent Spending Review.
‘Services have remained throughout the pandemic and we have provided £10.2m for mental health charities to support people struggling with their mental wellbeing, including to charities who provide support to people from black and minority ethnic communities.
‘We continue to work closely with partners to understand more ways to help people from BAME communities access mental health services.’
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