Mental health among LGBTQ individuals during pandemic varied by region, study finds

Symptoms of anxiety and depression among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals increased only in certain regions of the U.S. during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study led by CUNY SPH researchers.

Doctoral grad Chloe Mirzayi, ISPH Investigator Christian Grov, and colleagues found that symptoms among this population increased in the Northeast and Midwest regions, which were most impacted by the onset of the pandemic, but not in the South and West regions.

Previous studies suggest the pandemic and the measures taken to slow the spread led to a significant increase in depression and anxiety among U.S. adults, especially LGBTQ individuals. As part of Together 5000, an ongoing prospective cohort study, Mirzayi and team conducted a time series analysis stratified by U.S. geographic region to examine symptoms of depression and anxiety among a sample of primarily cisgender gay and bisexual men before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They found significant positive trends for the Northeast and Midwest regions in the 2020 assessment, indicating that symptoms of anxiety and depression were increasing in the sample in these regions immediately prior to and during the onset of the pandemic. A similar increase was not observed in the South and West regions, suggesting that these trends were driven by the burden of the pandemic and policies that varied from region to region.

“Few aspects of daily life were left undisrupted by COVID-19 and the policies put in place to mitigate the spread,” says Dr. Mirzayi. “However, the pandemic did not affect all areas of the U.S. at the same time, which may explain the regional variation in depressive symptoms among LGBTQ individuals we see in this study.”

Further research should consider how the impact of COVID-19 varied by geographic region and explore how this could influence the mental health of LGBTQ individuals.

Mirzayi C, Westmoreland D, Stief M, Grov C. Depression and Anxiety Symptoms Among Cisgender Gay and Bisexual Men During the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Time Series Analysis of a US National Cohort Study. JMIR Public Health Surveill 2024;10:e47048

About the CUNY SPH
The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) is committed to promoting and sustaining healthier populations in New York City and around the world through excellence in education, research, and service in public health and by advocating for sound policy and practice to advance social justice and improve health outcomes for all.

About the CUNY ISPH
The CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health (ISPH) was founded on the notion that substantial improvements in population health can be efficiently achieved through better implementation of existing strategies, policies, and interventions across multiple sectors. With that in mind, we study how to translate and scale up evidence-based interventions and policies within clinical and community settings in order to improve population health and reduce health disparities.