The Mental Health Implications of COVID-19 on Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color
Abstract: Shelter-in-place and social distancing measures have been critical for “flattening the curve” and managing the spread of COVID-19, but the sudden shock to our economic and social lives is raising concerns about the need to “flatten the second curve” of mental and behavioral health issues. A new report in JAMA Internal Medicine warns, “In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears likely that there will be substantial increases in anxiety and depression, substance use, loneliness, and domestic violence; and with schools closed, there is a very real possibility of an epidemic of child abuse.”1 Our nation was already on a troubling trajectory of rapidly rising deaths due to drug overdoses, alcohol, and suicides, and research has demonstrated that such “deaths of despair” are accompanied by a measurable deterioration in economic and social wellbeing.2 Prior to the pandemic, low-income communities and communities of color were already more likely to experience risk factors for poor mental health, such as low socioeconomic status and substandard living conditions, which are rooted in historic structural inequities. As we explored in a past issue of Community Development Innovation Review, there are profound connections between poverty, place, and poor mental health which can have important impacts on economic outcomes such as educational attainment and labor force attachment. These issues are more critical than ever, and as low-income communities and communities of color continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, it is vital that we consider mental health promotion as part of a comprehensive approach to equitable economic recovery.
Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Part of Series: Community Development Research Brief
Publication Date: 2020-05-21