A new study of 1.06 million Americans has found that the mental distress of LGBTQ Americans increased during the administration of Republican President Donald Trump, arguably the most anti-LGBTQ president of all time.
The study, published in the journal Economics & Human Biology, looked at responses from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS is a survey of nearly 450,000 adults conducted annual by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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The survey asks respondents how many days during the past 30 days they considered their mental health to be “not good.” People who respond “30 days” are considered to have experienced “extreme mental distress.”
The study found that LGBTQ-identified respondents experienced a greater increase in extreme mental distress than non-LGBTQ respondents.
In 2014, before Trump became president, 7.7 percent of LGBTQ individuals and 4.8 percent of non-LGBTQ individuals reported extreme mental distress. By 2019, three years into Trump’s presidency, 12 percent of LGBTQ adults reported extreme mental distress, compared to just five percent of non-LGBTQ people.
The increases were higher for LGBTQ individuals who lived in red states that voted for Trump compared to those who lived in blue states that voted for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The findings suggest that “the Trump administration possibly adversely affected mental health among LGBT people,” the study’s author, Masanori Kuroki, associate professor of economics at Arkansas Tech University, told PsyPost.
However, the BRFSS “acquires a new sample of individuals every year, rather than repeatedly questioning the same individuals over time,” PsyPost explained. This limits the ability of researchers to draw too many definitive conclusions from the survey.
“The finding is not causal, and we cannot confidently attribute the rise in mental distress among LGBT to Trump or his administration,” Kuroki said.
However, the study echoes that of other reports of increased mental distress from the Trump presidency.
Past studies have found that suicide hotline calls to Trans Lifeline quadrupled after Trump’s attacks on transgender people, trans teen suicide attempts may have spiked because of his tweets and areas that voted for Trump experienced increased reports of school bullying.
In 2017, The Trevor Project suicide hotline announced that calls to their crisis helpline increased after Trump was elected president.