Watson RJ, Peter T, McKay T, Edkins T, and Saewyc E (2018). Evidence of changing patterns in mental health and depressive symptoms for sexual minority adolescents, Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health


Depression, sadness, low self-esteem, and self-harm affect a substantial number of young people in North America. However, the prevalence of these symptoms has been found to be consistently higher for sexual minority (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual) populations. In this study, we traced the trends and disparities in mental health, including self-harm, forgone mental health care, good feelings, feelings of sadness, and feeling good about oneself, with provincially representative data from Canada (N = 99,373; M age = 15). We reported whether the disparities have narrowed, widened, or remained the same for sexual orientation subgroups over time. We found that though sexual minorities report higher rates of all negative mental health indicators, the disparity in self-harm for gay adolescent males compared to their heterosexual counterparts has narrowed over time. However, some disparities have widened: the gap in feeling sad has widened for sexual minorities compared to their heterosexual counterparts. These findings have implications for the efficacy of interventions and the next steps in working to ameliorate mental health issues for vulnerable sexual minority adolescents in North America.

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