Gay men and lesbians more likely to seek treatment for mental health and substance abuse

Jessica Geen August 14, 2009
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Gay men and lesbians are around twice as likely as their straight counterparts to seek treatment for mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse, a study has suggested.

The research from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), surveyed more than 2,000 California residents.

It found that 48.5 per cent of gays, lesbians and bisexuals had accessed treatment in the last year, compared with 22.5 per cent of straight people.

Lesbian and bisexual women were the most likely to seek treatment, which researchers said was unsurprising as women use health services more than men.

Heterosexual men had the lowest rates of treatment.

Researcher Susan Cochran said: “It is well known that health services utilisation 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.”

“The pervasive and historically rooted societal pathologising of homosexuality may contribute to this propensity for treatment by construing homosexuality and issues associated with it as mental health problems,” she added.

Related topics: Americas

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