People from ethnic minority backgrounds in Wales have been “forgotten about” during the coronavirus pandemic, two charities have said.
Diverse Cymru said Covid highlighted existing social inequality and BAME people faced a number of obstacles, hindering their access to services.
A Mind Cymru survey found lockdown had a “disproportionate” impact on black, Asian and ethnic minority communities.
Mind has called on mental health to be prioritised in the Senedd elections.
Amira Hayat, a 20-year-old Muslim from Cardiff, was living with stress and anxiety before coronavirus, but lockdown removed her ability to keep busy and meet friends.
“Once everything came to a standstill, that’s when I realised I had some sort of mental health issue and anxiety was definitely the most prominent one,” she said.
“I had minor anxiety attacks, so I would just shut off and just be in my room in my own space.
“I didn’t really want to talk to anyone. I’d get really bad headaches. It was really emotional at times.”
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She has called for more help for people from BAME backgrounds: “If I’m going to open up to a person who is, for example, not Muslim or doesn’t have a cultural background when I talk about certain things, it’s not going to make sense. I know we can’t meet on a common ground.
“So I think the main thing I want to raise awareness on is we need people of colour and people of religion to be there to help people like us.”
Samira Salter from equalities charity Diverse Cymru said BAME people “have been forgotten about during the pandemic and prior to the pandemic”.
“Poor housing, education, employment. Covid has just highlighted the inequalities that have been there always,” Ms Salter told BBC Politics Wales.
She said cultural factors also played a part, with a language barrier often making it more difficult for BAME people to access support services.
Covid ‘sharpened the focus’ on inequality
Mind’s report found 74% of 13 to 24-year-olds and 60% of over-25s said their mental health worsened at the beginning of the spring lockdown.
The charity’s report said: “Historically, people from BAME communities have struggled to access mental health support services in a timely and effective way.
“The issues relating to this predate the pandemic, however the situation in the last few months has sharpened the focus on these inequalities.”
The charity’s director Sara Moseley said: “We know from talking to people in Wales that a lot of people behind closed doors have been having a pretty tough time.
“There are lots and lots of people out there who are really not very well and they’re either not asking for help or they’re not getting help, and that is absolutely crucial to our future that that help is available.”
Mind Cymru has now launched a campaign urging all the political parties and their candidates for next year’s Senedd election to make mental health a priority.
“We are absolutely determined that mental health will not slip down the agenda, and that it should be central to the next government’s agenda because it touches on every aspect of our life,” Ms Moseley added.
You can see more on this story on Politics Wales on BBC One Wales at 10:00 BST on 11 October, and on the BBC iPlayer