Black women and mental health during the time of COVID
(Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock)

Pandemic Triggers Mental Health Crisis: 69% of Women Under 30 Impacted

If the threat of getting sick, seeing family members die, losing work and living in socially distanced quarantines weren’t bad enough, a new Kaiser Family Foundation study has revealed that 69% of women under the age of 30 believe COVID-19 has negatively impacted their mental health.

To conduct the survey, researchers with the nonprofit health organization (a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company) surveyed a random sampling of 1,862 men and women between March 15 and March 22 of this year. 

Among their biggest findings: nearly 7 in 10 women under the age of 30 reported that COVID-19 had taken a severe, negative impact on their mental health. When looking at women as a whole, that trend also held true with 55% of those surveyed saying their mental health had worsened over the last year, compared to just 38% of men.

Shefali Luthra of the nonprofit newsroom The 19th reported that the survey “underscores the extent to which, even as [the pandemic] wanes over the next year, COVID-19 will continue to exert an immense mental health burden — one that it’s unclear the nation’s health care infrastructure will be prepared to address.”

According to the report, “younger adults and women, including mothers with children under 18 years old in their households, are among the most likely to report that stress and worry related to coronavirus has had a negative impact on their mental health. Nearly half of Black adults (49%), White adults (48%), and about four in ten Hispanic adults (43%) say the coronavirus has had a negative impact on their mental health, including 3 in 10 Black adults (31%) and one-fourth of white (23%) and Hispanic (25%) adults who say it has had a ‘major impact.’”

Although the Kaiser study didn’t look at how LGBTQ individuals had been impacted by the pandemic, Luthra reported on “data collected by Ipsos Public Affairs [which] showed that, between August 21 and December 21, about a third of LGBTQ+ people reported their mental health had declined, compared to about a fifth of people outside of the queer community.”

Even before the coronavirus hit the U.S., women — and particularly Black women, Latinx women, mothers and LGBTQ individuals — were already facing an increased risk of anxiety or depression, conditions that have only worsened and become increasingly common over the last year.

“Experts don’t fully understand why but link it in part to the fact that women more often work in lower-wage jobs — which is tied to worse mental health — and more often carry caregiving burdens. COVID-19 has exacerbated that vulnerability,” said Luthra. “Though women appear less likely to die of the virus, they have been far more likely to take on childcare burdens because of pandemic-induced school and daycare closures, and more likely to have lost work because of the crisis.”

Equally troubling, according to the survey: “Many adults who reported worsened mental health due to the pandemic also report forgoing mental health treatment. About one-third (32%) of those who reported a negative impact on their mental health (representing 15% of all adults) say there was a time in the past year when they thought they might need mental health services or medication but did not get them.”

The Kaiser researchers Audrey Kearney, Liz Hamel, and Mollyann Brodie wrote that “nearly half of mothers (46%) who report a negative mental health impact due to the pandemic (27% of all mothers) say they did not get mental health care that they needed. In addition, about 1 in 5 adults under age 50, Black adults and women say they have experienced worsened mental health due to the pandemic and have not gotten mental health services or medication they thought they might need.”

Hamel told The 19th that a number of different factors were likely at play and preventing people from getting the mental health care they needed, including accessibility, financial barriers and challenges in finding an appropriate provider. It all suggests that “lack of access and affordability are barriers for people,” she said.

Other experts agree, adding that accessibility is a problem that will likely be with us as a country for some time. In an interview with The 19th, Dr. Cindy Liu, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, explained that the effects of COVID-19 will, unfortunately, persist long after the threat of contracting the disease has eased.

 “The pandemic widens existing disparities,” she said. “It’s going to have long-term consequences.”

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


Latest News

woke politics

Republicans Launch a War on ‘Woke’ Politics in Hopes of Big Legislative Wins in 2022

In 2020, former President Barack Obama warned that the phrase “Defund the Police” could become a dangerous rallying cry for the conservative right. But now, Republicans have apparently taken that warning one step further, declaring war on all things “woke.” Allan Smith and Sahil Kapur of NBC News wrote that…

women in politics

Women Remain Vastly Underrepresented in Local Government, Despite Conventional Wisdom Suggesting Otherwise

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat behind President Biden during his first speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28 — representing the first time two women held such important and high-ranking political offices. Even after such a historic moment, the reality…

voter restriction

Florida Follows Georgia’s Lead, Approves Racist Anti-Voter Restrictions Aimed Primarily at Democrats and People of Color

Not content with letting Georgia be the only state in the South demonized for its bigoted and racist attacks on voter rights, Florida has jumped into the fray in issuing its own series of new and highly controversial “Jim Crow-esque” anti-voting restrictions aimed specifically at disenfranchising Democrats and voters of…

Kentucky Derby

Inspired by Protests Over Breonna Taylor’s Death, Humana and Kentucky Derby Festival Launch Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in Louisville

Ahead of the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1, Kentucky Derby officials and Humana (No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020) have announced a new equity initiative meant to make the race more accessible and welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, gender, age…

crimes against human ity

‘Crime Against Humanity’; Global Report Says the US Should Be Prosecuted in International Criminal Court for Ongoing Police Murders of Black Americans

In what has been described as a “devastating” report, human rights experts and lawyers have investigated and released a 188-page analysis of the ongoing police brutality and killing of Black Americans in the U.S. Their verdict: the country is guilty of “crimes against humanity” and should be prosecuted for its…

Tokyo, Olympics

Tokyo Olympics to Encourage Significant Increase in Gender Equality Among Event’s Corporate Sponsors

Besides simply being a showcase for some of the most talented and athletic men and women on the planet, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are hoping their event this summer can also help promote significant change in corporate culture, both in Japan and around the globe. Bloomberg’s Ayai Tomisawa…