Hispanic, Black Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals Less Likely Than White Counterparts To Have Mental Health Issues, Study Says
Blacks and Hispanics who identify themselves as either gay, lesbian or bisexual report significantly fewer mental health issues than their white counterparts, according to a report conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the Advocate reports. The study included 388 whites, blacks and Hispanics in New York City who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. The finding counters the theory that the opposite would be true. The report's researchers hypothesized that black and Hispanic gays, lesbians and bisexuals might have additional stress related to racism and homophobia. Lead researcher Ilan Meyer, associate professor of clinical sociomedical sciences at the school, said, "These findings suggest that black lesbians, gay men and bisexuals have effective ways to cope with prejudice related to racism and homophobia."
The researchers also found that among all racial and ethnic groups, those ages 18 to 29 and 30 to 34 had fewer mental and mood disorders or suicide attempts than those ages 45 to 59. However, the study indicated that Hispanic and black men had more suicide attempts than their white counterparts. "[W]e can speculate that [the suicide attempts] coincided with a coming-out period and were related to the social disapprobation afforded to lesbian, gay and bisexual identities," Meyer said. Meyer also noted that the higher suicide attempts by minority gays, lesbians and bisexuals pose a challenge to mental health professionals because the groups are less likely to have other mood disorders. He suggested that public health professionals develop tailored suicide prevention efforts in those communities (Advocate, 10/3).
The study, which was funded by NIH, will be published in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health (Mailman School of Public Health release, 10/1).