A NEW study has found out that Covid-19 pandemic was psychologically more challenging for women and ethnic minorities than men as they reported higher levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness, and lower levels of life satisfaction.
The Covid-19 social study by the University College London is the UK’s largest which looked into how adults are feeling about the lockdown, government advice and overall wellbeing and mental health.
The BAME respondents to the study reported consistently worse mental health than other groups across every measure throughout the pandemic.
They had higher levels of depression, anxiety, thoughts of death or self-harm, loneliness, and lower life satisfaction and happiness, the study, which had over 70,000 participants who have been followed across the last 30 weeks, said.
Levels of anxiety and depression were 9 per cent and 14 per cent higher amongst people from BAME backgrounds compared to people from white ethnic backgrounds on average and life satisfaction was 6 per cent lower at the start of lockdown.
“Amongst women, anxiety was 53 per cent higher, depression 30 per cent higher, and life satisfaction 7 per cent lower compared to men. In the last month, levels of anxiety and depression persisted in being 30 per cent and 15 per cent higher amongst people from BAME backgrounds compared to people from white ethnic backgrounds on average and life satisfaction was 3 per cent lower,” the study showed.
“Amongst women, anxiety was 50 per cent higher, depression 36 per cent higher, and life satisfaction 5 per cent lower compared to men.
“Women and those with long-term physical health conditions are more worried about catching the virus or becoming seriously ill from it. People from BAME backgrounds are more concerned about losing their jobs and financial issues, as are those with higher educational qualifications.”
According to the study, other groups at risk of higher depression and anxiety are young adults, people living alone, people with lower household incomes, those living with children and those living in urban areas.
People with a long-term physical health condition and those with lower educational qualifications also experienced depression and anxiety.
“It’s clear that the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown restrictions have affected different groups in different ways, with some able to cope with the changes much easier than others,” said Lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt, UCL epidemiology & health care.
“Many of the groups identified as at risk of worse mental health during the pandemic are groups who typically experienced worse mental health before the pandemic. But Covid-19 appears to have exacerbated these mental health inequalities.”
Cheryl Lloyd, education programme head at the Nuffield Foundation said: “The finding that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are experiencing worse mental health during the pandemic reinforces what we know about existing ethnic inequalities in mental health. The provision of mental health treatment and support needs to take into account the different levels of need in the population and the complex ways in which social, health and economic issues combine to put some people at higher risk.”
They study is funded by the Nuffield Foundation with additional support from Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
The study team is also running the COVID-MINDS Network-an international network of over 130 longitudinal mental health from over 70 countries.
Through the network, dozens of scientists and clinicians are coming together internationally to collate results from mental health studies running in countries around the world and compare findings.