An increase in stop and searches during Covid also means a decline in mental health for young Black men

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The Centre for Mental Health hosted an online event yesterday and revealed that since Covid hit, there has been an uprise in mental health issues amongst young Black men.

Credit: Siviwe Kapteyn on Unsplash

The call discussed the impact Covid measures had on young Black males’ mental health. Guest speakers included Dr Justin Varney from Birmingham City Council and Labour MP for Edgbaston Preet Kaur Gill.

Statistics revealed that since Covid hit, people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have reported a 14% deterioration in mental health compared to 6.5% for white men.

According to National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), during March to May 2020, police were ‘twice as likely to fine young Black, Asian and ethnic minority men (aged 18-24) for breaching lockdown regulations than white men of the same age’. The Centre for Mental Health says this will ‘fuel mistrust and impact on [the]wellbeing’ of young Black men.

The call discussed these issues and how Black men feel they have been hit the hardest and the first hand experiences they have faced during this long period.

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One young man, Tremont, revealed his experiences of being stopped and searched and how it impacted on his mental health.

In 2019, he was stopped by two white police officers while he was driving behind their unmarked police car. Both the officers were armed.

He said: “Immediately you feel intimidated. The paranoia starts to kick in because of everything you see on the news.”

When Tremont told the police officers he was especially intimidated of them because of his race, he claimed they responded with ‘don’t play the race card. This isn’t America.’

He said that the incident was ‘eye-opening’ and is something that has stuck with him.

The Labour MP for Edgbaston MP Preet Kaur Gill said this type of discussion is important because ‘we need to give [Black men] the space to communicate what they have been feeling and be listened to on their own terms.’

Gill said: “We need to teach young Black boys why they should be proud of their identities and make sure that everyone has the tools to challenge present-day racism and discrimination and create that lasting change.”

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