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Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals Are Twice as Likely to Need Mental Health or Addiction Treatment Services

posted 12:45 AM EST, Sat August 15, 2009
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Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals Are Twice as Likely to Need Mental Health or Addiction Treatment Services © Photo Credit: Lovely Petal

A survey study of Californians indicates that gays, lesbians and bisexuals are far more likely to seek out addiction or mental health treatments; more than half of lesbian women seek out help.

After studying the data from the large California Health Interview Survey (which surveyed more than 2000 Californians), researchers out of UCLA say that gay men, lesbians and bisexuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexual men or women to seek mental health or addiction treatment services.

  • 48.5% of gays, lesbians and bisexuals interviewed received treatment help within the last year, compared to only 22.5 % of heterosexuals interviewed
  • 42.5% of gay or bisexual men sought treatment compared to 17.1% of heterosexual men
  • 55.3% of lesbian women sought treatment services compared to 27.1% of heterosexual women

On a scale from least to most, heterosexual men were least likely to seek treatment and lesbian women were most likely to search out mental health or addiction treatment services.

The study authors contend that although it is well known that women make greater use of available mental health and addiction treatment services, that sexual orientation is a significant variable in understanding treatment seeking behavior.

The researchers suggest that issues such as community prejudice, family stresses, violence against gays and lesbians and other environmental factors unique to the gay, lesbian and bisexual community may explain the increased seeking of treatment services. They also state that gay and lesbian cultural influences may “increase the social norms and expectations that therapeutic services are appropriate places for coping with the stresses associated with being a sexual minority.”

The full research study results can be read online in the journal, BMC Psychiatry

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