Stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, disability, and mental health: Considerations from the Intermountain West

Gabriele Ciciurkaite, Guadalupe Marquez-Velarde, Robyn Lewis Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The deleterious mental health effects associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are increasingly apparent, however, questions remain about the extent to which pandemic-related stressor exposure has contributed to increased psychological distress among an already disadvantaged group, individuals with disabilities. The first aim of the study was to examine the distribution of pandemic-related stressors across multiple dimensions—employment, personal and family finances, personal relationships, and quality of social life—among individuals with and without disabilities. The second aim of the study was to examine the association between a composite COVID-19 stressor score and two mental health outcomes—depressive and anxiety symptoms—among the two subsamples. The study used quota-based online survey data (N = 2043) collected in the summer of 2020 from adults (18 and older) residing in the Intermountain West, half of whom had a self-reported disability. Study results demonstrated that individuals with disabilities experienced pandemic-related stressors at significantly higher rates relative to their non-disabled counterparts. Further, pandemic stressor exposure was associated with greater negative effects on their psychological well-being. We argue that the COVID-19 pandemic is generating a secondary mental illness pandemic, and that individuals with disabilities are affected by it at significantly higher proportions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-317
Number of pages14
JournalStress and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by funding from the Utah Agricultural Experimental Station, Utah State University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • COVID-19
  • disability
  • mental health
  • social stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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