The current pandemic has served to exacerbate and highlight the long standing health inequalities affecting black families. Indeed the government’s own inquiry into the over-representation of black and minority ethnic communities in Covid-19 fatalities concluded that poverty as well as underlying health issues is in part to blame.
Research confirms that:
The link between poverty and ill health is well documented, in February 2010 the final report of the government commissioned inquiry, ‘Healthy Society Healthy Lives’, was published, and the key message was, there is a social gradient in health – the lower a person’s social position, the worse his or her health. Both children and adults from these backgrounds are shown to be less likely to access early support, such as primary care services, and are more likely to access mental health services via punitive or social control orientated gateways, such as the prison service (Health Committee 2013).
The Impact on Afro-Caribbean Communities
People from African Caribbean and African backgrounds are likely to be admitted to an inpatient unit compared to people from white or other minority ethnic groups and are much more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act (Care Quality Commission 2011). Many people from black and minority ethnic groups only receive help once they have reached crisis point (Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health 2002).
Malek and Joughin (2004) found that while children and young people from black and minority ethnic communities are under-represented in child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS), they are over-represented in adult mental health inpatient services. According to Wilson (1987) it is well established that the antecedents of most adolescent and adult mental illness, with the exception of dementia, are in childhood.