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Hispanic, Black Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals Less Likely To Have Mental Health Issues

Armen Hareyan's picture

Blacks and Hispanics who identify themselves as either gay, lesbian orbisexual report significantly fewer mental health issues than theirwhite counterparts, according to a report conducted at ColumbiaUniversity's Mailman School of Public Health, the Advocatereports. The study included 388 whites, blacks and Hispanics in NewYork City who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

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The findingcounters the theory that the opposite would be true. The report'sresearchers hypothesized that black and Hispanic gays, lesbians andbisexuals might have additional stress related to racism andhomophobia. Lead researcher Ilan Meyer, associate professor of clinicalsociomedical sciences at the school, said, "These findings suggest thatblack lesbians, gay men and bisexuals have effective ways to cope withprejudice related to racism and homophobia."

The researchersalso found that among all racial and ethnic groups, those ages 18 to 29and 30 to 34 had fewer mental and mood disorders or suicide attemptsthan those ages 45 to 59. However, the study indicated that Hispanicand black men had more suicide attempts than their white counterparts."[W]e can speculate that [the suicide attempts] coincided with acoming-out period and were related to the social disapprobationafforded to lesbian, gay and bisexual identities," Meyer said. Meyeralso noted that the higher suicide attempts by minority gays, lesbiansand bisexuals pose a challenge to mental health professionals becausethe groups are less likely to have other mood disorders. He suggestedthat public health professionals develop tailored suicide preventionefforts in those communities (Advocate, 10/3).

The study, which was funded by NIH, will be published in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health (Mailman School of Public Health release, 10/1).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.