Mental health of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths: A developmental resiliency perspective

Brian Mustanski*, Michael E. Newcomb, Robert Garofalo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

130 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Research suggests that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youths are at increased risk for both victimization and internalizing mental health problems, but limited research has studied their association or factors that increase resilience. The sample in this study included 425 LGBs between the ages of 16 and 24 years. The majority had disclosed their sexual orientation to family or friends (98%), and 97% had someone in their lives who was accepting of their orientation. Racial/ethnic minority and female participants in general reported lower levels of disclosure and acceptance. Most participants reported some form of sexual orientation-related victimization (94%). Victimization was associated with psychological distress, but a compensatory model indicated that in the context of this victimization both peer and family support had significant promotive effects. A test of a protective model found social support did not ameliorate negative effects of victimization. The positive effects of family support decreased with age. Peer and family support were particularly important, but they did not significantly dampen the negative effects of victimization. Findings suggest that mental health professionals working with LGB youths should address social support and that public health approaches are needed to reduce levels of victimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-225
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services
Volume23
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011

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victimization
mental health
sexual orientation
social support
health professionals
national minority
resilience
public health
acceptance

Keywords

  • Family support
  • Homosexuality
  • Peers
  • Resilience
  • Victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

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abstract = "Research suggests that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youths are at increased risk for both victimization and internalizing mental health problems, but limited research has studied their association or factors that increase resilience. The sample in this study included 425 LGBs between the ages of 16 and 24 years. The majority had disclosed their sexual orientation to family or friends (98{\%}), and 97{\%} had someone in their lives who was accepting of their orientation. Racial/ethnic minority and female participants in general reported lower levels of disclosure and acceptance. Most participants reported some form of sexual orientation-related victimization (94{\%}). Victimization was associated with psychological distress, but a compensatory model indicated that in the context of this victimization both peer and family support had significant promotive effects. A test of a protective model found social support did not ameliorate negative effects of victimization. The positive effects of family support decreased with age. Peer and family support were particularly important, but they did not significantly dampen the negative effects of victimization. Findings suggest that mental health professionals working with LGB youths should address social support and that public health approaches are needed to reduce levels of victimization.",
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N2 - Research suggests that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youths are at increased risk for both victimization and internalizing mental health problems, but limited research has studied their association or factors that increase resilience. The sample in this study included 425 LGBs between the ages of 16 and 24 years. The majority had disclosed their sexual orientation to family or friends (98%), and 97% had someone in their lives who was accepting of their orientation. Racial/ethnic minority and female participants in general reported lower levels of disclosure and acceptance. Most participants reported some form of sexual orientation-related victimization (94%). Victimization was associated with psychological distress, but a compensatory model indicated that in the context of this victimization both peer and family support had significant promotive effects. A test of a protective model found social support did not ameliorate negative effects of victimization. The positive effects of family support decreased with age. Peer and family support were particularly important, but they did not significantly dampen the negative effects of victimization. Findings suggest that mental health professionals working with LGB youths should address social support and that public health approaches are needed to reduce levels of victimization.

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