Ettman, C. K., Abdalla, S. M., Cohen, G. H., Sampson, L., Vivier, P. M., Galea, S.
BACKGROUND: COVID-19 and related containment policies have caused or heightened financial stressors for many in the USA. We assessed the relation between assets, financial stressors and probable depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Between 31 March 2020 and 13 April 2020, we surveyed a probability-based, nationally representative sample of US adults ages 18 and older using the COVID-19 and Life stressors Impact on Mental Health and Well-being survey (n=1441). We calculated the prevalence of probable depression using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (cut-off ≥10) and exposure to financial stressors by financial, physical and social assets categories (household income, household savings, home ownership, educational attainment and marital status). We estimated adjusted ORs and predicted probabilities of probable depression across assets categories and COVID-19 financial stressor exposure groups. RESULTS: We found that (1) 40% of US adults experienced COVID-19-related financial stressors during this time period; (2) low assets (OR: 3.0, 95% CI 2.1 to 4.2) and COVID-19 financial stressor exposure (OR: 2.8, 95% CI 2.1 to 3.9) were each associated with higher odds of probable depression; and (3) among persons with low assets and high COVID-19 financial stressors, 42.7% had probable depression; and among persons with high assets and low COVID-19 financial stressors, 11.1% had probable depression. Persons with high assets and high COVID-19 financial stressors had a similar prevalence of probable depression (33.5%) as persons with low assets and low COVID-19 financial stressors (33.5%). The more assets a person had, the lower the level of probable depression. CONCLUSION: Populations with low assets are bearing a greater burden of mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.