Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Black Veterans’ Mental Health: A Qualitative Investigation

Marianne S. Matthias, Jasma Adams, Diana J. Burgess, Joanne Daggy, Tayler M. Gowan, Anthony J. Perkins, Johanne Eliacin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Although the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black Americans are well-documented, we know little about its effects on their day-to-day lives and sense of wellbeing, especially for those who have served in the military. We conducted qualitative interviews with 21 Black veterans to understand their experiences with the pandemic and administered questionnaires about mental health and pandemic impact. Questionnaires indicated mild depression, moderate anxiety and loneliness, and pandemic effects on social support and health care. Interviews revealed that heightened anxiety and stress were driven by not trusting others to take the pandemic seriously, workplace anxiety, comorbidities, and the pandemic’s pronounced effects on Black communities. Participants shared insights into these effects, including lack of caution on the part of some and the role of systemic racism. Findings enhance our understanding of how Black veterans have experienced the pandemic and may have important implications for other underserved groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1275-1290
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by a COVID-specific supplement to a Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development (VA HSR&D) Merit Review Award to Dr. Matthias (IIR 17-032). Dr. Eliacin’s effort was supported by a VA HSR&D-funded Career Development Award (CDA 16-154). The sponsor had no role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the article for publication. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Publisher Copyright:
© Meharry Medical College.


  • COVID-19
  • health care disparities
  • mental health
  • Racial/ethnic minorities
  • veterans

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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