Differences in mental health across sexual minority status



Martin-Storey A, Temcheff CE, Laventure M, *Levesque G. (2019). Differences in mental health across sexual minority status. Santé mentale au Québec. 44(1): 47-66.


Objectives: Individuals with sexual minority identities (e.g., identities other than heterosexual such as gay, lesbian bisexual or mostly heterosexual) are at increased risk for a number of negative health outcomes compared to individuals who identify as heterosexuals. The majority of existing Canadian
population-based studies on this topic, however, were conducted prior to major cultural and legal changes with regards to sexual minority population. Furthermore, much of the more recent work focuses on adolescents or identifies mental health outcomes among urban populations. The goal of the
current study was to assess if sexual minority-based health disparities were observed within a population-based sample of adult men and women from Estrie, a semi-urban administrative region of Quebec. Method: In 2014-15, an independent firm surveyed a random sample of adults in Estrie, Quebec. A total of 10,687 individuals completed telephone surveys about their mental health (psychological distress, depression, alcohol use and drug consumption) and their sexual identities (i.e., heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual or mostly heterosexual). Analyses were performed separately for men and women. Results: Significant differences, specifically with regards to distress and cannabis use were observed across sexual minority status. Specifically, bisexual and mostly heterosexual participants reported poorer mental health outcomes compared with heterosexual participants. The majority of differences observed, however, were explained by variation in demographic variables (age, education, revenue and visible minority status). Conclusion: These findings suggest the importance of demographic factors with regards to understanding vulnerability to mental health outcomes among
sexual minority adults. Furthermore, the specific vulnerabilities experienced by mostly heterosexual and bisexual participants need to be taken into consideration by mental health professionals.