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

Derek M. Novacek, Jonathan K. Wynn, Amanda McCleery, Eric A. Reavis, Damla Senturk, Catherine A. Sugar, Jack Tsai, Michael F. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-107
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume172
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024

Funding

This study was funded by the Research Enhancement Award Program to Enhance Community Integration in Homeless Veterans, Rehabilitation Research and Development service of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (grant D1875-F to Dr. Green); the VA National Center on Homelessness among Veterans ; the VA Advanced Fellowship in Mental Illness Research and Treatment (to Dr. Novacek); and VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Career Development Award (grant 1IK2RX003989-01A2 to Dr. Novacek). None of the authors report any conflicts of interest or disclosures for this manuscript.

FundersFunder number
VA Advanced Fellowship in Mental Illness Research and Treatment
VA National Center on Homelessness
U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsD1875-F
Rehabilitation Research and Development Service1IK2RX003989-01A2

    Keywords

    • COVID-19
    • Homelessness
    • Mental health
    • Pandemic
    • Psychosis
    • Veterans

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