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LGBT college students

LGBT college students deal with mental health issues

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While LGBT college students face a number of problems, whether sexual harassment and discrimination or dealing with high college tuition, it’s no surprise they also have to deal with mental health issues.

Unfortunately, a recent study noted that while schools have on-campus mental health services, LGBT college students are more likely to seek help outside campus.

LGBT college students & mental health

In a study by the nonprofit research organization RAND that was published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers discovered that LGBT students preferred to use off-campus mental health services as compared to heterosexual students.

Likewise, LGBT students were more likely to report being deterred over issues of confidentiality and uncertainty in being eligible for on-campus services.

The study findings were taken from one of the largest surveys of college students on mental health issues with more than 33,000 students from 33 public four-year and two-year California colleges asked on mental health needs in 2013.

“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 RAND associate behavioral scientist Michael S. Dunbar, the lead author of the study.

Survey findings on LGBT college students

Of the 33,000 students, seven percent of the surveyed students identified as LGBT. Likewise, these students reported higher rates of psychological distress as compared to straight students and were more likely to report academic impairment related to mental health problems.

LGBT students were nearly twice as likely to have used mental health services during their college stay. For those LGBT students who used services off-campus, these were more likely than their straight peers to report concerns over confidentiality, embarrassment over their use of the services, and uncertainty if they would be eligible to use the on-campus services.

“Our study underscores the need for additional actions to increase access to and use of mental health services among all students,” said Dr. Bradley D. Stein, physician scientist at RAND and co-author of the study.

“It also highlights the need for efforts to ensure that campuses’ mental health services are sensitive and responsive to the needs of sexual minority students, enabling all students to address their mental health needs and maximize their chances for success in college and beyond,” Stein said.

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