Gays, Bisexuals Seek More Psych Services

THURSDAY Aug. 13, 2009 -- Gays, lesbians and bisexuals are about twice as likely as heterosexuals to seek treatment for mental health issues or substance abuse, a U.S. study finds.

Researchers analyzed data from 2,074 people who took part in the large-scale California Health Interview Survey and found that 48.5 percent of gays, lesbians, bisexuals reported receiving mental health or substance abuse treatment in the past year, compared to 22.5 percent of heterosexuals.

The study also found that lesbian and bisexual women were most likely to receive treatment while heterosexual men were least likely.

"It is well known that health services utilization is greater among women generally. Here we have shown that minority sexual orientation is also an important consideration. Lesbians and bisexual women appear to be approximately twice as likely as heterosexual women to report having received recent treatment for mental health or substance use disorders," study author Susan Cochran said in a news release.

Greater exposure to discrimination, violence and other stressful life events may explain why gays, lesbians and bisexuals are more likely to seek treatment for these disorders, she said.

"The pervasive and historically rooted societal pathologizing of homosexuality may contribute to this propensity for treatment by construing homosexuality and issues associated with it as mental health problems," Cochran said.

The study appears in the current issue of the journal BMC Psychiatry.

More information

Mental Health America has more about gay/lesbian/bisexual issues.

Posted: August 2009


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