Gender diverse college students exhibit higher psychological distress than male and female peers during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic02/04/2021
The ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may be the greatest global biopsychosocial stressor in living memory, and there is widespread anticipation of a 'mental health pandemic.' Hardly mentioned, if ever, during the current COVID-19 pandemic is the effect on gender diverse (GD) populations. Using a novel approach, we address this gap in the current literature by comparing resilience, psychological distress, and perceived risk in a sample of college students at a public, R1, 4-year university. The survey included demographic questions, the Brief Resilience Scale, the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, and self-reported risk of contracting COVID-19. GD individuals (n = 83) were matched with male (n = 83) and female (n = 83) peers on survey cohort (1, 2, or 3), White versus Non-White, age category, and student status (undergraduate vs. graduate). GD individuals reported lower psychological resilience (M = 2.88, SD = 0.93) than both male (M = 3.57, SD = 0.81) and female (M = 3.37, SD = 0.83) students, higher psychological distress (M = 12.33, SD = 6.04) than both males (M = 6.7, SD = 5.76) and females (M = 8.70, SD = 6.57), and similar perceived risk (p = .54). Nearly half (48.2%) of GD individuals were above the cutoff for severe psychological distress. During the unprecedented events of the novel coronavirus pandemic, students in higher education settings are facing tremendous biopsychosocial stress. GD students had very high levels of psychological distress relative to their male and female peers during the pandemic and may need additional support and expanded access to treatment.