The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive effect on the mental health and wellbeing of the general population. As a global source of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety, the pandemic and its associated isolation worsened the mental health of many. Sadly, we have seen a a rise in anxiety, depression, trauma and stress-related disorders, substance use (including alcohol and drugs), and thoughts of suicide throughout this pandemic. This increase in mental health issues is partly caused by the isolation that we all faced through stay-at-home orders, decreased socialization, and worries of becoming sick with the virus. The mental health issues were worse in some populations compared to others, for example younger adults, minorities, and essential workers had worse mental health issues compared to the general population, according to the CDC. One minority population that has consistently been underrepresented in medical research is the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. In addition to being poorly represented in research, this population has also been known to have unique mental health struggles, including worse perceptions of their mental health and higher rates of suicidal thoughts, compared to the general population. We would like to study how the 2SLGBTQIA+ population has been affected by the pandemic with a research group that includes 2SLGBTQIA+ members, and incorporates their perspective and experience into the study design. It is our hope that by doing so, what we find out from this research will accurately represent the mental health needs of this population during a large-scale disruption.
Specifically, this project aims to study how the forced isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the psychosocial health and wellbeing of the 2SLGBTQIA+ population in Newfoundland and Labrador. Considering their specific needs in mental health access and services, we believe that a study designed to measure the impact of isolation should ask questions with both pre-written answers (e.g. the participant has options to choose from ranging from "Strongly Disagree" to "Strongly Agree") and discussion with the population (e.g. the participant can answer questions freely with their own words). It is our hope that the answers we get from this study will identify the challenges presented by the pandemic and identify areas of improvement for mental health services that serve the 2SLGBTQIA+ population in NL.