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U of I study finds age protects against mental health symptoms among older women of color

Professor Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, left, and Mary Ellen Mendy, Kinesiology & Community Health have collaborated on a paper on the pandemic-related job disruptions on anxiety and depression among African American and Latina women.

Editors Note: In our original post, Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo’s name was not accurately published consistently and a few quotes weren’t accurate. We have corrected that and apologize for the error.

URBANA – Black and Latina women are at a greater risk of getting COVID, but age seems to play a role in protecting against mental health symptoms.

Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo is a kinesiology and community health professor at the University of Illinois and led the study. She said she thought older women would have more symptoms in her study.

“And what we argue in our paper, is that they probably have learned how to fare through a lot of different stressors over time, they probably have a larger view they can look back and think we’ve gone through difficult times,” said Lara-Cinisomo.

She said expected job changes among women of color were a risk for experiencing more depressive and anxiety symptoms.

A few other significant findings that Lara-Cinisomo was able to discover in her study include 30% of their 1,000 women sample screened positive for depressive symptoms and 28.6% screened positive for risk of anxiety.

Another finding from the study includes how prayer can be a possible protective against mental symptoms too.

“We found that African American women who reported praying also reported fewer depressive symptoms than African American women who did not pray,” said Lara-Cinisomo.

Yet, according to the study, depressive symptoms were higher among Latina women who prayed.

Lara-Cinisomo said prayer could be beneficial to pregnant and postpartum women but the results are mixed because prayer alone may not be helpful for everyone.

Lara-Cinisomo said there needs to be more discussion on ageism. She said it is important to learn more about older individuals.

Picture of Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez- Perez recently earned a B.S. in Journalism with a minor in Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is now pursuing his Master's in Journalism. Aside as an intern at Illinois Newsroom, Velazquez-Perez has written for The Daily Illini, Cicero Independiente and C-U CitizenAccess. He aspires to be a bilingual public radio journalist

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