Disability, Discrimination, and Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Stress Process Model

Robyn Lewis Brown, Gabriele Ciciurkaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Drawing on data from a community survey with a sizeable subsample of people with physical, intellectual, and psychological disabilities in the Intermountain West region of the United States (N = 2,043), this investigation examined the association of social stressors stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic with ableism or disability-related discrimination. We further assessed the significance of these associations for variation by disability status in psychological well-being with a moderated mediation analysis. Study findings provide clear evidence that greater pandemic-related stressor exposure was associated with greater discrimination, which in turn increased the psychologically distressing aspects of the pandemic for people with disabilities relative to people without disabilities. This set of findings challenges us to think about how we engage in research concerning ableism and the proliferation of macro-level stressors such as those associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings also support the application of a minority stress model in addressing mental health contingencies among people with disabilities—in this case, in examining the pandemic’s psychological impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-229
Number of pages15
JournalSociety and Mental Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Sociological Association 2022.


  • COVID-19
  • disabled people
  • discrimination
  • mental health
  • stress process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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