Global health disparities in vulnerable populations of psychiatric patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic affects psychiatric patients disproportionately compared to the general population. In this narrative review, we examine the impact of the pandemic on significant global health disparities affecting vulnerable populations of psychiatric patients: People of diverse ethnic background and color, children with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, pregnant women, mature adults, and those patients living in urban and rural communities. The identified disparities cause worsened mental health outcomes placing psychiatric patients at higher risk for depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Those psychiatric patients who are ethnic minorities display barriers to care, including collective trauma and structural racism. Sexual and gender minorities with mental illness face discrimination and limited access to treatment. Pregnant women with psychiatric diagnoses show higher exposure to domestic violence. Children with disabilities face a higher risk of worsening behavior. Mature adults with psychiatric problems show depression due to social isolation. Psychiatric patients who live in urban communities face pollutants and overcrowding compared to those living in rural communities, which face limited access to telehealth services. We suggest that social programs that decrease discrimination, enhance communal resilience, and help overcome systemic barriers of care should be developed to decrease global health disparities in vulnerable population.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-108
JournalWorld Journal of Psychiatry
Volume11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 19 2021

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