Researchers Assess Gay Youths' Mental Health

WEDNESDAY Dec. 8, 2010 -- One third of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adolescents have attempted suicide in their lifetime, but most of them are mentally strong, new U.S. research suggests.

A team at the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted psychiatric interviews with 246 ethnically diverse LGBT youth, aged 16-20, to assess them for major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), conduct disorder and suicide attempts.

About 70 percent of the youth met no criteria for any mental disorders, but 15 percent met criteria for major depression and nearly 10 percent met criteria for PTSD. The study found that one-third of the youths had made a suicide attempt at some point in their life, and 6 percent had made a suicide attempt in the last year.

The prevalence of mental disorders among LGBT youth was higher than that in the general population, but comparable to that of urban and minority youth, the researchers noted.

"One of the most important findings from our work is that most of these [LGBT] youth are doing very well and are not experiencing mental health problems," study author Dr. Brian Mustanski, an assistant professor of psychiatry, said in a UIC news release.

"The big question is, are these youth more likely to have mental disorders relative to other kids? And the answer to that is that it really depends on who you're comparing them to," he added.

The study appears online and in the December print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

More information

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has more about LGBT youth.

Posted: December 2010


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