Mental health disorders in young urban sexual minority men

Michelle Nicole Burns*, Daniel T. Ryan, Robert Garofalo, Michael E. Newcomb, Brian Mustanski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Purpose Very few studies have examined mental disorders among male sexual minority youth. We describe demographic correlates, comorbidity, and history of mental disorders and suicidality in a large sample of male sexual minority youth.

Methods Structured diagnostic interviews were conducted with 449 racially diverse urban sexual minority males, aged 16-20 years, who were recruited using a social network-driven sampling methodology.

Results Lifetime major depressive episode (MDE) affected 33.2% of the youth. Lifetime conduct disorder (23.6%), alcohol abuse/dependence (19.6%), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; 16.0%), and nicotine dependence (10.7%) were also common. Black participants were less likely than white participants to be diagnosed with lifetime MDE, alcohol abuse/dependence, nicotine dependence, suicidal ideation, and anorexia, as well as past 12-month alcohol abuse/dependence (odds ratios [ORs] range from.08 to.46). Relative to participants identifying as gay, bisexual identified youth were at higher risk for lifetime PTSD (OR = 2.04), and participants who did not identify as gay or bisexual were at higher risk for both lifetime and past 12-month nicotine dependence (OR = 4.36 and 3.46, respectively). Most participants with mental disorders never received treatment, and comorbidity was common.

Conclusions MDE, conduct disorder, alcohol abuse/dependence, PTSD, and nicotine dependence are common and infrequently treated in young sexual minority men. Some within-group disparities emerged, suggesting that factors related to racial background and self-identification may help to understand resilience to the unique stressors experienced by these young men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-58
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Adolescents, male
  • Age of onset
  • Comorbidity
  • Frequency
  • Homosexuality, male
  • Mental disorders
  • Minority health
  • Young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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