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Study: Black and
Latino LGBs Have Fewer Mental Disorders Than
Whites

Study: Black and
Latino LGBs Have Fewer Mental Disorders Than
Whites

In a study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health among lesbian, gay, and bisexual groups, researchers were surprised to find that blacks and Latinos report significantly fewer mental disorders than whites.

In a study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health among gay, lesbian, and bisexual groups, researchers were surprised to find that blacks and Latinos report significantly fewer mental disorders than whites. They had theorized that, due to the stress of prejudice related to both racism and homophobia, the opposite would be true. Ilan H. 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."

However, the study did show that more black and Latino gay men reported a history of serious suicide attempts. Meyer explained this apparent contradiction by pointing out that "because these suicide attempts occurred at an early age...we can speculate that they coincided with a coming-out period and were related to the social disapprobation afforded to lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities." Meyer states that higher suicide risk in these minority groups poses a particular challenge to mental health professionals, noting that the lack of other mood disorders in these patients indicates that public-health professionals should address specific suicide prevention efforts in these communities.

The study, conducted in New York City, included 388 white, black, and Latino residents who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and is the first population-based study of its kind.

Other results from the study included a finding that bisexual identity was related to higher prevalence of substance abuse but not anxiety or mood disorders. Also, across race/ethnic groups, younger cohorts--those in the 18-29 and 30-44 age groups--suffered fewer mental and mood disorders or suicide attempts than those ages 45-59. Meyer points out that "this finding is consistent to the liberalization of social attitudes toward homosexuality over the past few decades."

The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. (The Advocate)

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