In their Nature Human Behaviour commentary, UCI researchers, led by Roxane Cohen Silver, professor of psychological science, advise public health officials to strengthen resources for both community and individual mental health support. Jody Ross / R&R Creative Photography

The year 2020 has been marked by unprecedented cascading collective traumas. Individuals have simultaneously had to contend with the pandemic, economic recession, social unrest and weather-related disasters, while watching them unfold real-time in the media. UCI researchers warn that the mental health consequences of these compounding stressors may be profound, ranging from short-term anxiety to longer term depression and post traumatic stress disorder. These crises also highlight inequalities experienced by members of the Black, Latinx and indigenous communities in the U.S., who are suffering disproportionately from COVID-19, compounded by systemic racism and persistent poverty. In a commentary published online in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, Roxane Cohen Silver, professor of psychological science, and co-authors E. Alison Holman, professor; and Dana Rose Garfin, assistant adjunct professor, Sue & Bill Grosas School of Nursing, make recommendations to policymakers, based on decades of research on collective traumas. “The combination of medical, economic, racial and climate-based catastrophes highlights the need for public health officials to pay serious attention to the implications of cumulative collective trauma exposure,” Silver said. “It is critical that resources be made available to support community mental health initiatives and programs implemented that addresses economic and racial inequity.”