Study Examines Mental Health Disparities of College Women by Sexual Orientation

Research conducted at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, and Kent State University in Ohio finds that college students who are lesbians are more likely than heterosexual women who are college students to suffer from depression. And college women who are bisexual are even more likely to suffer from depression. The study included data on more than 150,000 college women in 2008 and 2009.

The study, published in the Journal of American College Health, also found that college students who are lesbians were 4.4 times as likely as their heterosexual peers to have contemplated suicide. Bisexual women were 5.1 times as likely to have contemplated suicide than heterosexual college women.

Laura Santurri, an assistant professor of health promotion at Weber State and a co-author of the study, states, “We have these numbers, but our data doesn’t exactly tell us why. But the evidence suggests discrimination against the LGBT community is a big driver for the mental health disparity we see in this population.” The authors recommend that the results of their study should be used by mental health professionals at colleges and universities in forming education, treatment, and intervention policies at their particular institutions.

Dr. Santurri is a graduate of the University of Akron. She earned a master of public health degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a doctorate in health education and promotion from Kent State University.

The article, “A Comparison of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual College Undergraduate Women on Selected Mental Health Issues,” may be accessed here.

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