News 22 June

Kooth sees Significantly Higher Increases in Suicidal Thoughts, Anxiety and Depression among BAME Young People, Compared to White Counterparts

  • While depression has seen a 9.2% increase among BAME CYP, among white CYP the issue fell by 16.2%
  • Suicidal thoughts among BAME CYP increased by 26.6% on the same period last year; anxiety/stress is up by 11.4%. For white CYP, the issues have seen lower increases of 18.1% and 3% respectively

XenZone, the UK’s largest digital mental health provider, has today released new data from its Kooth service showing the major mental health impacts of Covid-19 on children and young people (CYP) from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Suicidal thoughts, self harm and anxiety all saw significantly higher increases than were seen among white CYP.

For depression, the data shows a 9.2% increase for BAME CYP, contrasting sharply with a 16.2% fall among their white counterparts.

Suicidal thoughts among BAME CYP increased by 26.6% on the same period last year; self harm has seen a 29.5% increase; anxiety/stress is up by 11%. Among white CYP, increases in these presenting issues are being seen, but at significantly lower levels (18.1%, 24.9% and 3% respectively).

According to counsellor and therapeutic content writer at XenZone, Aisha Gordon-Hiles, it is vital that barriers to understanding are minimised to ensure that those from different backgrounds feel understood:

“Many BAME children and young people feel barriers to cultural understanding are reduced when speaking to a practitioner from their community. They also feel they can talk about issues of race and culture freely, without fears of judgement and or racism in response.

“In addition to this, having BAME role models in the field of mental health is particularly important for CYP from BAME communities. This is because disclosures of mental health and wellbeing issues are less culturally appropriate in a lot of these communities.”

Comments from young people from BAME backgrounds on Kooth – anonymised quotes:

“i really feel like I’m going to self harm again. I haven’t for months but now the urge is coming back. I just feel so numb. I’m just watching my life and it’s not real. I don’t care about school work but im stressed that its piling up. I should be doing school work but I can’t face it. I could never tell my family this and definitely not that I’m gay. Suicide may be my only way out.”

“There might be another coronavirus outbreak because people are too close together and I’m scared that it’s just going to ruin my last year of primary and the start of secondary school. If there is anyone out there who knows what I mean, please give advice. Anything would help.”

Anxiety and stress is by far the biggest of all presenting issues raised by BAME CYP, with 32.3% presenting with this issue. Anxiety/stress accounts for 11.4% of all issues raised.

Commenting on this finding, Dr Lynne Green, XenZone’s chief clinical officer, said:

“The spotlight on the inequalities between BAME and non BAME communities is pretty bright just now. While we all experience a continuum of emotions on a regular basis, the flood of mixed emotions for this community is likely to be experienced as overwhelming. And we know that emotional overwhelm is one of the key symptoms of anxiety and depression.

“It is so crucial that we work with our young BAME population to help them to make sense of their experiences and feelings; support them to break down the areas of concern into manageable chunks and gain a sense of control in the here and now as well as in relation to their future prospects. With support from our BAME colleagues at XenZone, we are challenging ourselves to better understand what is going on for this clearly vulnerable cohort.”

XenZone is reporting and sharing its data reports regularly – see our website, under ‘Covid-19 data’

Notes on Data:
All data is from Kooth, XenZone’s online mental health support service for children and young people, which is commissioned across more than 85% of all NHS clinical commissioning group areas.

The time period analysed is w/c 3rd March to w/c 26th May 2019 compared to w/c 1st March to w/c 24th May 2020. During this period in 2020, there were 51,321 log-ins, 7,482 of which were from CYP from BAME backgrounds (an increase of 44% from last year).

The presenting issues are registered against a service user following any interaction that displays this issue. This is typically during counselling, but could also be during any other interaction, such as comments in a forum. The comparison to last year is based on the proportion of the users that have presented with the particular issue, compared to the proportion last year, during the same time period.