Covid-19 Digital Research
 

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This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed.

Disciplines

Psychiatry and Psychology

Abstract

Rationale U.S. Racial/ethnic minorities have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in rates of infection and morbidity. Pre-pandemic racial discrimination has been associated with depression and general anxiety. However, the effect of Coronavirus specific forms of discrimination on mental health have not been examined. This study assessed the effect of previously identified social determinants of mental health and COVID-19 specific victimization and racial bias beliefs on depression and anxiety among young adults of color in the U.S.

Methods A national online survey of 399 AIAN, Asian, Black, and Latinx adults (18 – 25 years) included demographic variables, COVID-19 health risks, and standardized measures of depression, anxiety, Coronavirus related victimization distress and perceptions of Coronavirus-related racial bias across a range of contexts.

Results Employment, financial and prescription insecurity, COVID-19 health risks, Coronavirus victimization distress and Coronavirus racial bias beliefs were positively correlated with depression and anxiety. Scores on the Coronavirus racial bias scale were significantly higher among Asian and Black respondents. Structural equation modeling controlling for race/ethnicity and demographic variables indicated perceived Coronavirus racial bias mediated the effect of Coronavirus victimization distress on both mental health indices.

Conclusion Results suggest the COVID-19 pandemic has created new pathways to mental health disparities among young adults of color by reversing formerly protective factors such as employment, and by exacerbating structural and societal inequities linked to race. Findings highlight the necessity of creating mental health services tailored to the specific needs of racial/ethnic minorities during the current and future health crises.

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