The mental health burden of racial and ethnic minorities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Long H. Nguyen, Adjoa Anyane-Yeboa, Kerstin Klaser, Jordi Merino, David A. Drew, Wenjie Ma, Raaj S. Mehta, Daniel Y. Kim, Erica T. Warner, Amit D. Joshi, Mark S. Graham, Carole H. Sudre, Ellen J. Thompson, Anna May, Christina Hu, Solveig Jørgensen, Somesh Selvachandran, Sarah E. Berry, Sean P. David, Maria Elena MartinezJane C. Figueiredo, Anne M. Murray, Alan R. Sanders, Karestan C. Koenen, Jonathan Wolf, Sebastien Ourselin, Tim D. Spector, Claire J. Steves, Andrew T. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Racial/ethnic minorities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The effects of COVID-19 on the long-term mental health of minorities remains unclear. To evaluate differences in odds of screening positive for depression and anxiety among various racial and ethnic groups during the latter phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, we performed a crosssectional analysis of 691,473 participants nested within the prospective smartphone-based COVID Symptom Study in the United States (U.S.) and United Kingdom (U.K). from February 23, 2021 to June 9, 2021. In the U.S. (n=57,187), compared to White participants, the multivariable odds ratios (ORs) for screening positive for depression were 1 16 (95% CI: 1 02 to 1 31) for Black, 1 23 (1 11 to 1 36) for Hispanic, and 1 15 (1 02 to 1 30) for Asian participants, and 1 34 (1 13 to 1 59) for participants reporting more than one race/other even after accounting for personal factors such as prior history of a mental health disorder, COVID-19 infection status, and surrounding lockdown stringency. Rates of screening positive for anxiety were comparable. In the U.K. (n=643,286), racial/ethnic minorities had similarly elevated rates of positive screening for depression and anxiety. These disparities were not fully explained by changes in leisure time activities. Racial/ethnic minorities bore a disproportionate mental health burden during the COVID-19 pandemic. These differences will need to be considered as health care systems transition from prioritizing infection control to mitigating long-term consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0271661
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8 August
StatePublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


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