U.S. News & World Report
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More than a quarter of U.S. adults who participated in an online survey given in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic were experiencing symptoms of current depression, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows, with the prevalence of mental distress highest among Hispanics.
Estimates based on an opt-in online survey of adults 18 and over last year show that 28.6% of respondents were suffering from current depression, 18.2% had initiated or increased substance use, and 8.4% were having suicidal thoughts.
The survey was conducted in April and May of 2020, with results based on 1,004 respondents. Along with questions about mental health issues and substance use during the pandemic, the survey included questions related to being blamed for spreading COVID-19, issues such as feeling isolated and alone, and social determinants of health such as not having enough food to eat.
According to the report, symptoms of depression were reported 59% more frequently by Hispanic adults, at 40.3%, than white adults at 25.3%. Suicidal ideation was four times more common among Hispanics than among Black or white people, and approximately twice as common than among multiracial or non-Hispanic people of other races or ethnicities.
Additionally, increased or new substance use was reported among 36.9% of Hispanic respondents, compared with approximately 15% of other respondents.
Overall, reasons for "psychosocial" stress among respondents included worries about family health, feelings of isolation, worries about getting COVID-19, concern about having a loved one die of COVID-19, and getting exposed in the workplace. Concerns about family health were most prevalent at 36.3%, followed by feelings of isolation at 28.6%.
At 12.9%, a larger share of multiracial people or those who identified as Asian, Native American or another race or ethnicity were worried about discrimination or stigma associated with blame for the spread of COVID-19 than white or Hispanic adults.
An estimated 27.1% of people were worried about possible job loss, 18.4% were worried about obtaining needed health care, 14.4% were worried about getting enough food and 11.8% worried about housing instability. Among all groups, Hispanics were the most worried about getting enough food, at 22.7%, and stable housing, at 20.7%, the report shows. The share of white adults concerned about those issues stood at 11.9% and 9.2% respectively.
The report notes that the findings are limited by factors such as the survey's small sample size, that it was administered only in English on the Internet, and that responses were self-reported. It's also unclear if the responses would be representative of the broader U.S. population.
Researchers say the results suggest a need for more studies, and that a focus on Spanish-speaking Hispanics "might be helpful."
"The mental health and psychosocial needs of U.S. adults, including persons in racial and ethnic minority groups, are an important consideration when promoting community resilience and preserving access to and provision of services during the COVID-19 pandemic," the report states.
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