Cleaveland CL, Frankenfeld CL. 2022. Household financial hardship factors are strongly associated with poorer Latino mental health during COVID-19. J Race Ethnic Dispar 13:1–14.
Latinos have suffered disproportionate adversity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many studies have focused on comparing Latinos to other groups, potentially masking critical concerns within population. This study identifies potential pathways to poor mental health among Latinos during the pandemic.
Data from US Census Household Pulse Survey, covering April 23, 2020, to October 11, 2021, were analyzed. Ordinal logistic regression evaluated categorical frequencies of problems with anxiety, loss of interest, worry, and feeling down. Findings were stratified by gender, poverty status, metropolitan location, and work. Demographic, household, financial, and work covariates were mutually adjusted, and jackknife replications and population weights applied.
Adverse mental health was common, with higher frequencies of 2 or more adverse mental health symptoms for at least several days in the prior 2 weeks (59.1–76.3%, depending on stratified group). Food insufficiency was strongly associated with adverse mental health symptoms across all characteristics. Odds ratios of often not having enough to eat compared to enough of foods wanted being associated with adverse mental health ranged from 2.6 to 6.56 (depending on stratified group). Difficulty with expenses was also strongly associated with adverse mental health across characteristics, with odds ratios very difficult compared to not at all ranging from 2.7 to 7.7 (depending on stratified group).
These observations suggest household financial hardship factors influence mental health regardless of other personal characteristics, and this could inform services for Latinos. Targeted programs to ensure food sufficiency and income may be necessary to improve mental health in US Latinos.