Gay and bisexual students aren’t getting the help they need at college, major study shows
Campus mental health services are colleges and universities in the United States are inaccessible to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer students, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that LGBQ students were more likely to need on-campus counselling services than their heterosexual peers – but they were also more likely to seek that help that help away from campus.
The findings, taken from a survey of 33,220 students across 33 colleges and universities conducted by the California Mental Health Services Authority, suggests that gay and bisexual students are not getting the help they need at university.
“There may be opportunities for college campuses to dig into this and see if there are things that they could be doing to make services more welcoming and available to LGBQ students,” said senior author Dr. Bradley Stein, of the RAND Corporation in Pittsburgh, to Reuters.
Dr Stein noted that LGBQ people suffer from depression more often than their heterosexual peers, and report needing more mental health counselling on average.
Transgender students were not included in Dr Stein’s study because of their unique mental health treatment issues, the researchers said.
The findings showed that some 26 percent of LGBQ students had experienced serious psychological distress, compared to around 18 percent of their heterosexual peers.
And 17 percent of LGBQ students reported having academic problems due to severe mental health issues like stress and anxiety, compared to about 11 percent of heterosexual students.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Stein said that providing mental health workers isn’t enough.
“We need to think about this all the way through,,” he told Reuters, “including how do we change the perception of these services being available, easy to use, accessible and meeting the needs of students.”
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The study comes a few months after a study in the British capital London found that over a third of the city’s LGBT residents live with some form of mental health difficulty.
Another major study from earlier this year, however, found that sexuality has no direct impact on sexuality.
Research from the Australian National University found that simply being gay or bisexual did not put patients at an increased risk of mental illness.
The eight year study challenged the common perception that LGBT people are at a higher risk of mental illness and suicide.
Dr Richard Burns, who led the researcher, said that a heterosexual person in a stressful or traumatic situation “would be at just as much risk as a homosexual who is reporting negative social support.”
“It’s these other risk factors that are driving people’s risks, not their sexual orientation,” he added.