Struggling with Stigma: LGBTQ+ Student Mental Health Service Use across American Post-Secondary Institutions

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:54
Oral Presentation
Nicole MALETTE, The University of British Columbia, Canada
Colleges and universities across America are experiencing a spike in the number of students seeking mental health treatment. However, few studies have examined how stigma and academic stress influence differences in mental health service use between LGBTQ+ students and their heterosexual peers. LGBTQ+ students exhibit higher rates of mental health problems including anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, when compared with their heterosexual peers. These disparities are understood to be a function of the excess stress, discrimination and victimization that LGBTQ+ individuals experience as a result of their potentially stigmatized identity. This research combines data from The Healthy Minds Network Survey with The Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System to conduct covariance and multiple-regression analysis for student group mental health and treatment use. Utilizing 35,385 domestic and international student surveys from 56 schools, this research demonstrates that students who self-identify as a sexual minority are more likely to use on-campus mental health services than heterosexual students. A number of factors relating to attitudes, beliefs and knowledge of resources are also found to be strongly associated with different help seeking behaviors between these student groups, suggesting that the contextual perceptions of students have real consequences for their mental health service use. Findings from this research reveal critical barriers impeding the efficacy and accessibility of post-secondary mental health services for LGBTQ+ students in the United States.