Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health: potentially vulnerable groups and comorbidities


  • Candice C. Johnson, PsyD
  • Mirela A. Aldea, PhD



COVID-19, mental health, vulnerable groups


The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is an unprecedented emergency situation with significant stressors causing adverse impacts on mental health across the globe. Certain individuals are potentially more vulnerable during the outbreak, in particular those with medical vulnerabilities to COVID-19, eg, elderly, living with chronic illnesses, as well as individuals with pre-existing mental health issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, suicidality, and loss/grief. Additionally, individuals with persistent post-acute COVID-19 symptoms, eg, long haulers, are also a vulnerable population. During this international crisis, pandemic-related stressors, such as isolation/quarantine, lockdown, social distancing, homeschooling, loss of income or employment, and/or loss of loved ones could negatively affect these vulnerable subgroups and their overall life functioning. This paper aims to aid in the management of this international emergency by identifying potentially vulnerable subgroups because of the COVID-19 pandemic and by providing recommendations related to appropriate mental health referrals/interventions. This paper also aspires to enhance the knowledge of first responders and lay persons about vulnerability factors to readily help individuals struggling with mental health issues during the pandemic.

Author Biographies

Candice C. Johnson, PsyD

Mental Health Clinic, Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, Bay Pines, Florida; International Association of Fire Service Behavioral Health

Mirela A. Aldea, PhD

Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, Bay Pines, Florida


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How to Cite

Johnson, PsyD, C. C., and M. A. Aldea, PhD. “Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health: Potentially Vulnerable Groups and Comorbidities”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 19, no. 9, July 2021, pp. 9-15, doi:10.5055/jem.0604.