A recent study discovered that black Caribbeans experienced significant distress due to a “hostile environment.”

A recent study discovered that black Caribbeans experienced significant distress due to a “hostile environment.”

Researchers have discovered that the UK’s hostile environment policies had a more detrimental impact on the mental well-being of black Caribbean individuals compared to the effects of the coronavirus lockdown on the general population.

A research conducted by professors at University College London and sponsored by the Wellcome collection analyzed longitudinal information from 58,087 individuals, including over 2,000 participants from a black Caribbean heritage.

From 2009 to 2020, individuals took part in the general health survey, which evaluated for potential mental health issues. The results were utilized in the research as an indicator of overall psychological distress, encompassing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Mobile billboards warning ‘go home or face arrest’ as part of the controversial ‘hostile environment’ policy, in 2013.View image in fullscreen

The results showed that black Caribbeans in the UK experienced a larger rise in psychological distress after the implementation of the Immigration Act in 2014, compared to their white counterparts.

The discrepancy, a decrease of 0.7 points on a mental wellness scale of 1-36, was larger compared to the overall decline in mental health observed among the entire population of the UK during the initial COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

The research also uncovered that black individuals of Caribbean descent experienced a heightened level of emotional strain following the exposure of the Windrush scandal in 2017, when compared to their white peers.

Researchers found that the impact of hostile environment policies on psychological distress among individuals of black Caribbean descent in the UK was two to four times higher compared to the effect of youth unemployment on psychological distress among the general population in previous studies.

The former home secretary Theresa May created hostile environment policies in 2012, stating the goal of making the UK an unwelcoming place for illegal migration. These policies were implemented through the Immigration Act 2014 and aimed to restrict access to employment, benefits, bank accounts, driver’s licenses, and other necessary services for individuals who could not provide proof of their legal residency in the UK.

The study concluded that there is a correlation between hostile immigration policies and the Windrush scandal, leading to higher levels of psychological distress among black Caribbean individuals in the UK.

The study, led by Dr. Annie Jeffrey, revealed the negative impact of the government’s hostile environment policy on specific groups of people’s mental well-being.

Jeffrey stated that the effects on mental health could be attributed to the immediate consequences of these threats on individuals’ homes and livelihoods. However, they could also be connected to a larger, widespread feeling of racial inequality and prejudice faced by a community already dealing with systemic and potentially institutionalized racism and discrimination.

During the time that the Windrush scandal was heavily covered in the media, there was a possibility that it could trigger past traumas for certain individuals. Even those who were not directly impacted may have still experienced a type of secondary trauma or anxiety about their own potential future experiences.

According to Professor James Kirkbride, who co-authored the study, the results of the study indicate that government policies have the ability to create, uphold, and intensify systemic disparities in mental health.

He suggested that policymakers take into account the potential effects of immigration policies on mental health. This includes not only those seeking to immigrate or without legal status, but also those who are already legally settled in the country. Therefore, policies should be created to minimize all negative impacts, including mental health disparities.

The Home Office has been asked to provide a comment.

Source: theguardian.com