• Tuesday, June 28, 2022


Mental health of most ethnic groups in the UK worsened between 2019 and April 2020, reveals ONS data

By: Pramod Thomas

THE latest data from the Office for National Statistics(ONS) published on Monday(14) revealed that most ethnic groups in the UK experienced a worsening of their mental health between 2019 and April 2020.

Indians in the country reported both greater difficulty with sleep due to worry in April 2020, when the UK was in national lockdown, and had higher scores than other groups on self-reported mental health difficulties, it further said.

The ONS data shows that around 27 per cent of people from black, African, Caribbean or black British ethnic groups reported finding it very or quite difficult to get by financially during the first lockdown.

This was significantly more than those from Pakistani and Bangladeshi (13 per cent), Indian (8 per cent), other white (7 per cent) or White Irish (6 per cent) ethnic groups.

Those from Pakistani or Bangladeshi ethnic groups in the paid work category were less likely to report working from home at least ‘sometimes’ during April 2020.

Besides, respondents from Pakistani or Bangladeshi ethnic groups were more likely to report that their financial situation had worsened or remained negative than white British respondents.

The analysis also revealed that the financial resilience of households headed by someone of black African or other black ethnicity prior to the pandemic was significantly lower than among households headed by those from most other ethnic groups.

“The research shows that how the impact on different ethnic groups varies and how people’s circumstances before the pandemic could affect their experience during the first national lockdown,” said Glenn Everett from the ONS.

“Financial resilience was lower among black African or other black households before the pandemic, for example, which would explain why these groups found it harder to manage financially during lockdown. Perhaps unsurprisingly, mental health deteriorated across most ethnic groups during lockdown and was most marked in the Indian group.”

Before the pandemic, white British or other White groups were more likely to report being in paid work compared with working age adults of Pakistani or Bangladeshi, Chinese or other Asian, Indian and black, African, Caribbean or black British ethnicities.

Around half of working age adults of white British (46 per cent) and other white (51 per cent) ethnicities who were in paid work reported a decrease in their weekly hours worked in April compared to pre-pandemic. This was true for 33 per cent of Indian, black, African, Caribbean or black British ethnicities, shows the data.

According to the research, three in 10 white Irish respondents were more likely than those from white British, Chinese and other Asian or black, African, Caribbean or black British groups to report an increase in loneliness or continuing to feel lonely often between 2019 and April 2020.

Other white ethnic group were more likely to report a decrease in take-home pay than those of white British and Indian ethnicities, it further said.

TUC research: BME workers self-isolated at a much higher rate

A research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has revealed that one in three black and minority ethnic (BME) workers have had to self-isolate during Covid-19 pandemic, much higher rate than white workers.

The study carried out by Britain Thinks, has revealed that more than a third (35 per cent) of BME workers have self-isolated during the pandemic compared to a quarter (24 per cent) of white workers.

The findings were published as part of the TUC’s new antiracism task force meeting, chaired by NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach.

While half of white workers (49 per cent) reported that their employer had done a Covid-Secure risk assessment for their workplace, this falls to 36 per cent for BME workers. This is despite the risk assessment being a legal requirement.

Working during the pandemic continues to have a negative impact on the levels of stress and anxiety of two-fifths of BME workers (38 per cent). Besides, BME workers (88 per cent) are more likely to have concerns about returning to work than white workers (78 per cent).

The study revealed that almost a third (32 per cent) of BME workers report having experienced three or more forms of unfair treatment compared to a quarter of white workers. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of BME workers report experiencing abuse from other members of their workplace, compared to 16 per cent of white workers.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “BME workers are more likely to be exposed to the virus, less likely to work in Covid-Secure workplaces, and therefore more likely to be plunged into hardship if they have to self-isolate. BME workers – and all workers – should be entitled to decent sick pay when they have to self-isolate, and to safe workplaces.

“The government should act to rid the UK of the low wage insecure jobs that keep many BME workers in poverty and put them at higher risk from the virus. And it should set out a real commitment to ending systemic racism and discrimination.”

“There is a hostile environment for black workers today which means they are more likely to face discrimination in the workplace, to be in insecure jobs, and more likely to be dismissed from work. And, during the pandemic we have also seen how racial discrimination has resulted in Black workers being much more likely to die at work as a result of Coronavirus,” said Dr Patrick Roach.

“As the task force begins its work, we will be hearing evidence from black workers about their experiences of everyday racism in the workplace. The Anti-Racism Task Force will not hesitate to call out racial injustice wherever we find it.”

The task force will lead the trade union movement’s renewed campaign against racism at work, and will produce recommendations on tackling structural racism in the UK, in workplaces and in unions themselves.

Eastern Eye

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