Bisexuality and mental health among young adults during COVID-19

Publication Date


Document Type



Public Health and Recreation

Publication Title

American Public Health Association 2021 Annual Meeting and Expo

Conference Location

Denver, CO and Virtual


Background: Sexual minority college students may be at particular risk for depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and loneliness given the restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. This participatory study examined the distribution of the mental health burden among bisexual young adults.
Methods: Undergraduate students designed and implemented a cross-sectional survey, representative of their social networks at San José State University (N=358). Using standard scales, participants reported their demographics and mental health status.
Results: Racially diverse participants aged 18 - 35 identified as heterosexual (82.6%), mostly heterosexual (5.6%), bisexual (6.9%), gay or lesbian (2.3%) and other (2.6%). Depression and anxiety were common (30.8% and 39.7%, respectively), 17.0% reported suicidal ideation and 13.4% reported feeling lonely nearly every day. The prevalence of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation was higher for bisexual participants compared to heterosexual or gay or lesbian participants (Prevalence ratios comparing bisexual to heterosexual participants respectively 2.36 (95% CI 1.63, 3.42), 1.62 (95% CI 1.15, 2.30), and 2.89 (95% CI 1.62, 5.15)). Compared to heterosexual young adults, bisexual young adults had 10.32 times the prevalence of feeling lonely nearly every day (95% CI 3.03, 35.10).
Conclusions: The mental health needs of the bisexual community are significant and separate from gay or lesbian young adults. There is a strong need for reflection on social connectedness for bisexual young adults especially during times of extended stress and isolation.