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Outness, discrimination, demographic variables affect mental health of LGBTQ+ people – study

LGBTQ+ people already face mental health disparities, and a study finds that outness, discrimination, and other demographic variables affect possible serious mental illness among LGBTQ+ people.

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As it is, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual and gender minority (LGBTQ+) people face mental health disparities. But how do outness, discrimination, and other demographic variables affect possible serious mental illness (SMI) among LGBTQ+ people?

A study – “Outness, Discrimination, and Psychological Distress Among LGBTQ+ People Living in the Southern United States” by Joanna A. Caldwell, Alexander Borsa, Baker A. Rogers, Ryan Roemerman, and Eric R. Wright – that appeared in LGBT Health eyed to look into this.

For this study, the researchers used data from the 2017 LGBT Institute Southern Survey, a cross-sectional convenience sample of 6,502 LGBTQ+ adults living in 14 Southern states of the US. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to examine differences between those with and without possible SMI.

The researchers found:

  • Outness was associated with a lower likelihood of possible SMI, especially when controlling for discrimination in the past 12 months and lifetime discrimination.
  • Lifetime discrimination was associated with a higher likelihood of possible SMI, as was discrimination experienced in the past 12 months.
  • Black/African American respondents had the lowest percentage of possible SMI (21.0%) compared with other races, despite having lower or comparable rates of outness.

“These results indicate a possible promotive effect of outness against possible SMI among LGBTQ+ Southerners, as well as possible promotive group-level factors among Black/African American LGBTQ+ Southerners,” stressed the researchers. As such, for them, “policies and interventions that address discrimination against LGBTQ+ (people) should be expanded, and future research should address how the relationships between outness, discrimination, and mental health outcomes may vary by subgroup.”


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