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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.


This article was originally published in Journal of Adolescent Health, volume 72, issue 6, in 2023.

This scholarship is part of the Chapman University COVID-19 Archives.


Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine

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