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Mental Health Inequities in the Context of COVID-19

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

Major depressive disorder is a leading cause of disability worldwide, and a major risk factor for suicide. It is also an illness that is remarkably sensitive to the social determinants of health—worsening depressive symptoms have been associated with adverse childhood experiences, racism and discrimination, unemployment, food insecurity, and a host of other social and environmental factors.1 The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to massive social and economic disruptions around the world and in the United States. In their study examining the prevalence of depressive symptoms before and during the pandemic, Ettman et al2 have effectively documented an important mental health implication of the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors found higher prevalence rates of depression across all severity levels during COVID-19 compared with rates of depression before the pandemic in the US. Not surprisingly, for certain populations (eg, people with lower incomes and people with greater levels of stress associated with the pandemic), depressive symptoms were even more pronounced.

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Article Information

Published: September 2, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.20104

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2020 Shim RS. JAMA Network Open.

Corresponding Author: Ruth S. Shim, MD, MPH, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, 2230 Stockton Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95817 (rshim@ucdavis.edu).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

References
1.
Shim  RS , Compton  MT .  The social determinants of mental health: psychiatrists’ roles in addressing discrimination and food insecurity.   Focus (Am Psychiatr Publ). 2020;18(1):25-30. doi:10.1176/appi.focus.20190035PubMedGoogle Scholar
2.
Ettman  CK , Abdalla  SM , Cohen  GH , Sampson  L , Vivier  PM , Galea  S .  Prevalence of depression symptoms in US adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.   JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(9):e2019686. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.19686Google Scholar
3.
Farmer  PE , Nizeye  B , Stulac  S , Keshavjee  S .  Structural violence and clinical medicine.   PLoS Med. 2006;3(10):e449. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030449PubMedGoogle Scholar
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World Health Organization. Commission on Social Determinants of Health—Final Report. Accessed August 7, 2020. https://www.who.int/social_determinants/thecommission/finalreport/en/
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Hatzenbuehler  ML , McLaughlin  KA , Keyes  KM , Hasin  DS .  The impact of institutional discrimination on psychiatric disorders in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: a prospective study.   Am J Public Health. 2010;100(3):452-459. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.168815PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Benfer  EA , Wiley  LF . health justice strategies to combat COVID-19: protecting vulnerable communities during a pandemic. Health Affairs Blog. March 19, 2020. Accessed June 28, 2020. https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20200319.757883/full/
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Bradley  EH , Canavan  M , Rogan  E ,  et al.  Variation in health outcomes: the role of spending on social services, public health, and health care, 2000-09.   Health Aff (Millwood). 2016;35(5):760-768. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2015.0814PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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