Covid-19 and mental health.

Following the emergence of COVID-19, we have seen an increasing number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths, high unemployment, increased risk of transmission from working essential jobs, isolation from social distancing and remote work, and increased care demands for loved ones. These stressors are associated with substantial negative impacts on individuals’ mental health. Women, communities of color, and working-class families have been most heavily impacted. They are more likely to experience the social and economic distresses of the pandemic and most at risk for reduced well-being.

Health Disparities during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted long-standing social and economic inequalities. Low-income communities and communities of color have suffered the brunt of job losses and COVID-19 related deaths. Six months after the first case of Covid-19 in the United States, there have been more than 7 million cases and 200 thousand deaths in the United States due to Covid-19. Preliminary analysis shows that Black, Hispanic, and Native people in the United States have a coronavirus infection rate nearly three times higher than that of White people. The coronavirus death rate among Black people is 2.1 times the rate for White individuals.

The Economics Impact of COVID-19 Varies by Demographic.

Before the COVID-19 recession, women were disproportionally represented in occupations that paid lower wages. Women dominated sectors such as the service and leisure industries have been most affected by the pandemic, resulting in high rates of unemployment among women and communities of color. As a result, families are facing income and food insecurity and threats of eviction.

Women are less likely to hold jobs that can be done from home. This is compounded by race: Black and Hispanic women are less likely to work from home compared with their White and Asian counterparts. As a result, women, especially BIPOC women, are forced to risk their health and their families’ health to work essential jobs. On the other hand, women working from home are having to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities while working from home, and much of this is unpaid care work.

Mental health Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic

These health, economic, and social inequities exacerbated by the pandemic negatively impact the mental health of women and communities of color. According to the Household Pulse Survey, women are most likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety. The Pulse survey also shows symptoms of depressions are highest among those who are mixed race, Hispanic, and Black. A study by Total Brain found depression levels among working women increased by 83 percent since February and by 36 percent for men. In addition, women are more likely than men to report not receiving counseling or therapy from a mental health specialist when they needed it.

Pandemic Recovery Policy Recommendation 

COVID-19 is having disastrous effects on people’s mental health, and there is no end to the pandemic or recession in sight. To support families, it is critical to prioritize policies that protect workers, promote healthy workplaces, and include economic guardrails such as paid leave, unemployment compensation, and health insurance benefits. In addition, there must be an increase in the accessibility of mental health services in order to benefit the communities most heavily impacted by the pandemic. How can you help? Individuals can learn to identify the signs of distress caused by Covid-19, develop strategies to cope with stress, and share resources to support those struggling with depression or anxiety that may be brought on or exacerbated by the pandemic.