Brittany N. Hearne - Psychological Distress by Race/project.php?thisProject=16

Brittany N. Hearne, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology, presented "Psychological Distress by Race/Ethnicity and Education at the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic" at 6 p.m. Thursday, December 2, at The David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. The Pryor Center Presents lecture series is part of the Pryor Center's expanded mission of education, research, and outreach.

Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to be long-term with negative implications for public mental health. In Hearne's present study, she first analyzed nationally representative survey data collected in March and April 2020 to show psychological distress patterns. Hearne also analyzed in-depth interview data, collected in the Northwest Arkansas Region between June and August 2020, for a more comprehensive understanding of how Black college-educated people managed pandemic-related stressors.

The survey findings show that, nationally, Black people with graduate-level degrees report the lowest psychological distress. The interview data show that speaking with friends and family, reliance on co-workers, therapy, and positive self-affirmations were used as common coping strategies to curb feelings of isolation and distress.

These findings reveal both national patterns of psychological distress across race/ethnicity and educational attainment and specific coping resources and strategies used by college-educated Black Arkansans to decrease distress.

This work is supported by the University of Arkansas Humanities Center and the University of Arkansas Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Hearne completed her undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University and her graduate studies at Vanderbilt University. Her research and teaching agendas include a focus on health patterns across social statuses and family arrangements. Using survey data sources, she has examined how depressive symptoms are patterned across race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and various types of romantic relationships.

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