WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL OUTCOMES FOR MARGINALIZED POPULATIONS DURING THIS PANDEMIC?
The mounting psychological, behavioral, and economic outcomes of COVID-19 may have a disproportionate impact on racial/ethnic minorities and individuals from a low socioeconomic status. The weight of social distancing, altered school and work routines, health and financial stressors is new for everyone, but may fall hardest on those already reporting fewer physical and mental health resources. We have little knowledge about the mental health consequences of a global health epidemic, but outcomes of disasters like Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 suggest there will be an increase in the prevalence of mood disorders. In the absence of health resources, people often turn to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs to cope with crises. Communities that experience the hardest economic strife tend to have higher rates of death due to drug overdose and suicide.
The mental, physical, and social consequences of COVID-19 also extend to children. During this crisis, most parents are juggling to provide homeschooling, adequate supervision, and social/emotional support for their children. It is likely even more difficult for single parents and essential workers. Unsupervised children may be at a higher risk for accidents, engagement in risky behaviors (e.g., alcohol/drugs), or in more frequent contact with abusers. For children who rely on school breakfast and lunch, the consequences of food insecurity are amplified due to school closures. Research suggests that aversive childhood experiences like low parental monitoring, poverty, and drug availability are all risk factors for future mental health and substance use disorders. Thus, COVID-19 may have short- and long-term implications on mental health and substance use behaviors that have yet to unfold.