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HEALTH IS MONEY

The disproportionate mental health effects of Covid-19 on Black and Latino populations

People take part in a protest against the government policies at a Black Lives Matter protest in New York.
Reuters/ EDUARDO MUNOZ
Black and Latino people have faced disproportionate impact from the pandemic in the US.
  • Olivia Goldhill
By Olivia Goldhill

Science reporter

A global pandemic, economic lockdown, and enforced social distancing are hard on everyone’s mental health. Some people are especially vulnerable.

Black and Latino people are more likely than white people in the US to report anxiety or sadness they struggled to cope with during the pandemic, according to a survey of 1,266 people by the Commonwealth Fund, an organization that works to create better healthcare in the US.

These populations have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus deaths, and the threat of the pandemic could well exacerbate mental health difficulties. Financial worries also likely contribute: These groups were more likely to experience economic difficulties during coronavirus, according to the survey, and research shows a strong link between financial worries and mental health.

Overall, those with a below-average income were the most likely to report anxiety and great sadness during the pandemic, further highlighting the impact of economic security on mental health.

But women were also significantly more likely than men to have struggled with mental health, despite only being slightly more likely to experience economic difficulties. This could reflect the increased burden of caring for children and families that women have faced during the pandemic, or simply women’s greater willingness to self-report mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

The negative circumstances of coronavirus tend to compound for everyone: The pandemic exacerbates economic difficulties which then heighten mental health problems. There are hotlines to call and ways to support others but, ultimately, mental health is often a reflection of environment.

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