Changes in mental health and well-being are associated with living arrangements with parents during COVID-19 among sexual minority young persons in the U.S.
Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 10:1, 150–156 (2023)
Sexual minority young persons may be at risk for compounding mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic due to their existing vulnerabilities for psychological inequities. Indeed, recent research has documented that sexual minority young persons are experiencing compounding psychiatric effects associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, researchers and practitioners have hypothesized that sexual minority youth and young adults may experience unique hardships related to their sexual and gender identities and familial conflict as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and living arrangement changes with their parents and families. This study aims to investigate whether there are changes in sexual minority (and nonsexual minority) young adults’ (SMYAs’) mental health and well-being among those living with and living without their parents before and after the start of COVID-19. Among a cross-sectional sample of SMYAs (n = 294; Mage = 22 years; age range = 18–26) and non-SMYAs (n = 874; Mage = 22 years; age range = 18–26) defined by whether they were living with or living without their parents before and after the start of COVID-19, we retrospectively analyzed changes in psychological distress and well-being. SMYAs who returned to their parents’ homes during post-onset of COVID-19 reported greater mental distress and lower well-being, followed by those who were living with their parents both before and after the start of COVID-19. Patterns were not consistent among non-SMYAs, and lower magnitudes of change were seen. There is a significant public health need for mental health services and family education resources for supporting SMYAs in the context of COVID-19 and beyond.