Homosexuals and bisexuals are nearly twice as likely as heterosexuals to seek out treatment for mental health issues.
So says a new study that analyzed responses from the large-scale California Health Interview Survey of 2,074 people. The study found that 48.5 percent of gays, lesbians and bisexuals reported receiving mental health or substance abuse treatment in the past year. Only 22.5 percent of heterosexuals reported receiving mental health treatment.
“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,” noted lead author Susan Cochran.
“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,” she added.
The study also found that lesbian and bisexual women were most likely to receive treatment. Heterosexual men were the least likely to receive treatment, according to the study.
The study was not designed to answer why more gays and lesbians seek out and receive mental health treatment. However, the researchers took educated guesses as to some of the reasons gays and lesbians seek such services — greater exposure to discrimination, violence and other stressful life events.
“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.
Source: BMC Psychiatry