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With the discovery of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, citizens across the country are gearing up for another difficult winter. However, such concerns are not just about physical health, but also the mental health toll faced by vulnerable populations in the midst of a pandemic.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently issued a warning about the effects of the long-lasting COVID-19 pandemic on America’s children. Dr. Murthy cited the lingering effects of isolation as one of the chief causes for concern.
In a tweet, he noted that “mental health is no less important than physical health.”
Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost a family member to COVID-19. The new Omicron variant is increases worries about the challenges that many could face in the future.
Black Americans facing increased instances of mental health issues
Black men, women, and children face even higher rates of depression and anxiety over COVID-19. than their white counterparts. A recent study confirmed that Black Americans are being hit harder by COVID-19., and experiencing unique difficulties.
Shevaun Neupert is the co-author of a study on the effects of COVID-19 and a professor of psychology at North Carolina State University. In a recent interview with NCSU, he stated his concerns about disproportionate adverse effects on Black and brown communities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted system inequities that place Black adults at greater risk of adverse health outcomes,” Neupert said. “The stress of the pandemic appears to be placing a greater burden on Black Americans.”
This added trauma compounds the already higher rates of depression and anxiety people of color face.
The national suicide rate for Black Americans continues to be higher than that of white Americans. Explanations for the disparities include the stress caused instances of daily, systemic racism and white supremacy in the United States.
Growing number of resources aim to support wellbeing of the Black community
In a search for solutions, an increasing number of resources have become available for Black Americans facing mental health issues.
One such resource is the Loveland Foundation, which focuses on mental health support for Black women and girls. Another national organization focused on de-stigmatizing mental health struggles in African American communities is the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation. The Foundation provides a publicly-available list of Black and Brown mental health providers, as well as cultural sensitivity programming for vulnerable populations.
While concerns about a another wave of COVID-19 infections grows, so does support for efforts to tackle mental health challenges in the Black community. Many hope continuing to elevate conversations around treatment and therapy will prevent issues of mental health from escalating further.
According to Dr. Murthy, “Mental health challenges are treatable, and often preventable.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.