Community ethnic density, ethnic segregation, and ethnic minorities' common mental disorders in the UK

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Studies in the UK demonstrate evidence that ethnic minorities living in communities with a higher proportion of co-ethnics report better mental health: co-ethnic density effects. This paper aims to address three gaps in this literature. Firstly, most UK research has focused on acute mental disorders (e.g., psychosis), with little work examining co-ethnic density effects for more common mental disorders. Secondly, there is a paucity of research exploring the role that residential segregation may play alongside co-ethnic density in minority mental health. Thirdly, little systematic testing has examined at what geographic-scale co-ethnic density effects are most salient for minority-group mental health. To address these potential gaps, we apply multi-level linear regression modelling to a large-scale, nationally-representative UK panel dataset, containing an ethnic minority booster-sample, to study the community-level drivers of mental health-related quality-of-life (SF-12 Mental Component Summary Score). The results demonstrate mixed support for the protective-effects of co-ethnic density on mental well-being. However, they demonstrate broadly consistent support for the impact of residential segregation on mental well-being. In particular, that segregation exerts a non-linear effect: mental well-being is at its most positive at medium-levels of segregation, somewhat more negative at low-levels of segregation, and much more negative at higher-levels of segregation. These patterns are present for the ‘all ethnic minority’ sample, and stronger for Black sub-groups compared to Asian sub-groups. These relationships appear most consistent at meso-local geographic scales (Middle Super Output Areas). These findings have important implications for theorising our understanding of the nexus between the community and mental health among minority-groups.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth & Place
Early online date1 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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  • Cathie Marsh Institute


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