June 2, 2017 at 8:00 am EDT | by Staff reports
Mental health issues plague LGBT college students

mental health problems, gay news, Washington BladeLOS ANGELES — College students who belong to sexual minority groups are more likely to seek help for mental health problems than their straight peers, but they still face many barriers to using on-campus mental health services, according to a new RAND Corporation study, MedicalXpress reports.

Researchers found that students who identify themselves as LGBT were more likely to use off-campus mental health services than their straight peers and were more likely to report being deterred by barriers such as concerns over confidentiality and uncertainty over eligibility for on-campus services.

The findings are from one of the largest surveys ever of college students about mental health issues. More than 33,000 students from 33 public four-year and two-year colleges in California were surveyed about mental health needs during 2013. The study was published online by the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“It’s encouraging that college students who identify as sexual minorities are more likely to utilize mental health services, but our findings suggest there is a need to develop campus-based mental health services tailored to this group and address barriers to using them,” said Michael S. Dunbar, lead author of the study and an associate behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

The study found that 7 percent — roughly one in 15 — of the students surveyed identified as LGBT or questioning. Compared to straight students, sexual minority students had higher rates of psychological distress (26 versus 18 percent), were more likely to report academic impairment related to mental health problems (17 versus 11 percent) and reported higher overall levels of stress over the past month (63 versus 55 percent).

Members of sexual minority groups were nearly twice as likely to have used some type of mental health services during their time in college (31 versus 18 percent). Among all students, most of those who reported serious psychological distress did not use mental health services, MedicalXpress reports.

Among students who needed services but didn’t get them on campus, sexual minority individuals were more likely than their straight peers to report specific barriers to using on-campus mental health services.

The RAND study analyzed information from a survey about mental health completed by students from nine University of California campuses, nine California State University campuses and 15 California community colleges. The results were weighted to help reflect the state’s overall college student opulation, MedicalXpress reports.

  • I attended a very large university in Kansas that shall remain nameless, wink wink, and i’d like to share what felt as an insightful and telling moment for me personally. This was the early 90s, and a female friend who is African American said something that stuck a harmonious chord in me. it may even enlighten that interesting connection gay men seem to feel with African American women: She was speaking casually about how ‘stared-at’ she felt, simply walking on campus from class-to-class. I empathically felt her discomfort, understanding where she was coming from…
    I was ‘out’ and active politically, and coming from a Catholic school, it was to me, a safe and distant enough place to spread my wings, so to speak. Still, BEING both “out”, and knowing that people might ‘recognize’ me as ‘That Gay Guy”, was tough ; I was not outgoing, and so it was a push-and-pull sort of ‘being the change i wanted to see”, vs, “being not seen and comfortable and not having the deal with making that change, or the emotional sweaty work it required. I longed to BOTH be ‘in’, in the frat, the group, the student body, what you will, and feeling as if i was somehow automatically placed as the outsider, when that was the atmosphere i thought i left back in St. Louis. And I never knew WHO knew or not, so the pressure of on stage, what i wanted to leave at HS in St. Louis, I really just brought with me, and maybe put myself through as well..
    So when she said that, i got it : HER ability to not be “THE Black girl” was not a luxury she could afford that i had, She was FOREVER “The Black girl” in English, Biology, whatever, and her grades, demeanor, her clothing her presence was ALWAYS too often how the curious white kids would watch her, and metaphorically pull her hair, and poke and prod out of curiosity. No, i’m sure she did not depend on white kids approval, but the weight of carrying that, a weight i understood, she bore until she left the school, as do so many Afrivan American students on predominately-white campuses. Being or just feeling often under the microscope was a little neurotic-making and self-esteem challenging. if that makes sense. One day, which i apparently looked worn out and been put through the emotional ringer, i was apparently walking with my head down, probably hiding underneath a baseball cap. I never mentioned being ‘gay’, and rarely said it outright, which then must seem weird when i was president of the gay student group, and did those damn emotionally draining ‘panels’ in large classes like “Psych `0` or the like, where, again, the microscope was hovering over you big time. So on campus, she walked towards me, and with a determined graciousness of concern and compassion, walked by me, an d said, “Lift you head up. Lift it up!” It takes me teary-eyed still. I don’t know what became of her, but when i collectively pray and wish for good for the good people i value, her face, nameless, is there in the air and within that light.

  • I’d also like to add, when you go to college, though the agenda IS to sort of realized that ‘we are all alike, and more similar than different.. yada yada.. ” But too often, college, if it’s large and diverse enough, DOES too often lend itself to NOT communities of inclusion and happy diversity banners, but who are the ones you want to be around, seen with and the like. Really the REASON i became ‘out’ and active, though i wanted to in a low-profile way already, was that i was was discovered to be gay by a fellow rushing Greek best friend. It COULD have been worse, but i had a manila-envelope with pictures of Tom Cruise, as funny and juvenile as it sounds. and some were shirtless photos. (Tom, hey, Tom, if ya are. hit me up with a private IM buddy, k?) I was outed, outed out of the Greek world, and shoved out into the fresh air and sunshine and freedom, though the rainbows and dance parties didn’t reflect reality. Often, if we are, for want of a better word, “obvious”, we ARE out, and sort of there, so what can you do but trudge onward. Lgbtq students on larger, less-liberal campus spaces, are emotionally, mentally and even physically, forever running to just stand still, next to those calmly coasting on through. But reality-check again: No one ever said there’d be free glitter, hugs for the gays, and endless dance music !

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