A new study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law finds that the mental health of Black and Latinx LGBQ people declined in the 17 months following the 2016 presidential election of Donald J. Trump. While mental health remained stable in the seven months before the election, Black and Latinx LGBQ people reported more poor mental health days per month, greater psychological distress, higher odds of suicidal thinking, and decreased social well-being over time following the election.
Researchers used data from the Generations Study, a representative sample of LGBQ people in the United States from three age groups—young (18-25), middle (34-41), and older (52-59). Results showed that younger respondents, bisexuals, those with lower incomes and less education were particularly affected by poor mental health.
“The sociopolitical environment after the 2016 election was hostile toward both sexual minorities and racial/ethnic populations,” said study co-author Ilan H. Meyer, Principal Investigator of the Generations study and Distinguished Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “A hostile environment increases minority stress. LGBQ people of color were targeted by the former administration both due to their sexual identity and race/ethnicity, likely impacting their mental health.”
- Compared with lesbian and gay respondents, bisexual respondents and those with other identities (e.g., queer, pansexual) reported more poor mental health days in the past month and greater psychological distress.
- Respondents with higher incomes reported less psychological distress and greater social well-being than those with incomes <100% of the federal poverty level.
- Compared with respondents with a high school education or less, those with a college education had fewer poor mental health days per month, less psychological distress, and greater social well-being.
- Older respondents reported fewer poor mental health days per month, less psychological distress, and lower odds of past-year suicidal ideation than younger adults (18–25 years old).
“Additional research is needed to assess whether these changes in mental health will persist over time or improve with more supportive administrations,” said lead author Evan A. Krueger, Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Southern California. “Public health professionals should consider the effects of sociopolitical changes on a population’s mental health.”
The Generations Study examines the health and well-being of cisgender and nonbinary LGBQ people. Transgender people, regardless of their sexual orientation, were included in our TransPop Study, which examines the demographics, health, and lived experiences of the first national probability sample of transgender individuals in the U.S.
The Generations study is supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health, under award number R01HD078526. The Generations investigators are Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D., (PI, UCLA); David M. Frost, Ph.D., (University College London); Phillip L. Hammack, Ph.D., (UCSC); Marguerita Lightfoot, Ph.D., (UCSF); Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D. (University of Texas, Austin) and Bianca D.M. Wilson, Ph.D., (UCLA) Co-Investigators are listed alphabetically. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.