In 2020, racially/ethnically minoritized (REMD) youth faced the “dual pandemics” of COVID-19 and racism, both significant stressors with potential for adverse mental health effects. The current study tested whether short- and long-term trajectories of depressive symptoms from before to during the COVID-19 pandemic differed between REMD adolescents who did and did not endorse exposure to COVID-19-era-related racism (i.e., racism stemming from conditions created or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic).
A community sample of 100 REMD adolescents enrolled in an ongoing longitudinal study of mental health was assessed before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were 51% girls, mean age = 16, standard deviation = 2.7, and identified as Latinx/Hispanic (48%), Multiethnic (34%), Asian American (12%), and Black (6%).
REMD adolescents' depressive symptoms were elevated during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to pre-pandemic levels, and increases were more pronounced over time for those who endorsed exposure to COVID-19-era-related racism. In general, Asian American participants endorsed racism experiences at the highest rates compared to others, including being called names (42%), people acting suspicious around them (33%), and being verbally threatened (17%). Additionally, more than half of Black and Asian American participants reported worry about experiencing racism related to the COVID-19 pandemic, even if they had not experienced it to date.
REMD adolescents are at increased risk for depressive symptoms related to converging stressors stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and pandemic-related racism, which has the potential to widen racial/ethnic mental health disparities faced by the REMD youth.
Liu SR, Davis EP, Palma AM, et al. Experiences of COVID-19-related racism and impact on depression trajectories among racially/ethnically minoritized adolescents. J Adolesc Health. 2023;72(6):885-891. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2022.12.020
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
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