The Inequitable Impact on Mental Health from COVID-19
The impact of COVID-19 on mental health that has been felt, is being felt, and will be felt throughout the nation is devastating and anything but equal.
The pressure of financial insecurity was already a real health stressor even before the pandemic. Since beginning of 2020, many lost jobs and even homes due to COVID’s financial implications, and even the fear of these things happening is enough to induce mental health stressors like severe anxiety on those impacted. This disastrous financial insecurity creates increased income disparities which further exasperates the inability of those suffering from mental health issues on a lower income level to access health care, and only increases the negative effect of mental health issues.
“Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that, between April 2019 and April 2020, the unemployment rate increased from 3.6 to 14.7 for the U.S. as a whole
but from 11.5 to 31.2 among Blacks and from 3.7 to 16.7 among Latinos”
This illustrates the proportion of the Black and Latino community who have been affected by COVID-19 on a way larger scale, which will lead to increased mental health stressors.
The fear of death and fear of death of others can cause depression or stress to rise very easily, and even cause a pre-existing condition to worsen. The impact of an unexpected death may cause prolonged grief as well as elevated grief.
“As of May 27, 2020 aggregated data from 40 states that publicly report COVID-19 deaths by race/ethnicity indicate that the COVID-19 mortality rate is 2.4 times higher among African Americans (rate = 54.6 per 100,000) than non-Hispanic Whites (rate = 22.7 per 100,000)".
Again there are disparities in these communities which, impacted by COVID-19 at higher rates, will potentially experience death of a loved one, or an unexpected death at a higher rate in direct relation to this.
The shutdown of public transit also has created a barrier for those who cannot use their own transportation to visit loved ones, or reduce their feelings of isolation without public services.
Additionally and more importantly, the increased rate of pandemic-fueled Anti-Asian hate is a large factor contributing to more mental health suffering for these communities.
In conclusion, there is a dire need for more research to be done on these continual effects on the nation’s mental health due to COVID-19, and long term effects will be felt for sure. This is necessary to not only meet the needs and address mental health disparities in the US now, but to prepare for addressing and protecting people’s mental health in the face of any other future outbreak
For help in the LA area be sure to visit https://dmh.lacounty.gov/resources/
Main article source: COVID-19 and mental health equity in the United States” Jonathan Purtle June 2020