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    Sustained mental health and functional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Black and White Veterans with psychosis or recent homelessness

    Journal of Psychiatric Research

    Year: 2024

    The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted marginalized populations including Black Americans, people with serious mental illness, and individuals experiencing homelessness. Although the double disadvantage hypothesis would suggest that individuals with multiple minoritized statuses would experience worse psychosocial impacts from the pandemic, this may not be the case for vulnerable Black Veterans. The present study investigated the sustained mental health and functional responses to the pandemic in Black and White Veterans with psychosis or recent homelessness and in a control group of Veterans enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare services. Clinical interviews and questionnaires were administered remotely by telephone at five time points from May 2020 through July 2021, including a retrospective time point for March 2020 (i.e., before the pandemic started). Overall, there was a striking absence of systematic differences by race in the trajectories of psychiatric symptoms and functioning among Veterans during the study period. These findings are consistent with a report on initial responses to the pandemic that revealed only a few select differences by race among Veteran groups. The lack of racial disparities is inconsistent with the double disadvantage hypothesis. Although further investigation is needed, one possible interpretation is that the wrap-around services offered by the Veterans Health Administration may have mitigated expected differences by race among Veterans with psychosis or homelessness. Future research should continue to examine whether VA services mitigate disparities in mental health and psychosocial outcomes.

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