College students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) experience a higher risk of psychopathological disorders such as but not limited to anxiety and depression due to the addition of imposed psychological stress that comes with identifying as a sexual or gender minority. (Borgogna, McDermott, Aita, & Kridel, 2018). These LGBTQ student’s experience a unique mix of discrimination and harassment from society in regards to their sexual identity in comparison to their heterosexual and cisgender peers on campus. The negative experiences of harassment and discrimination faced can undoubtedly and severely affect a person’s mental health. While there are mental health resources available to students on most campuses, they are not always used to their potential (Dubar, Sontag-Padilla, Ramchand, Seelam, & Stien, 2017). There has been several studies conducted about the correlation between identifying as a sexual minority and experiencing higher levels of anxiety, stress and depression. However, these studies do not take in account the effects of multiple psychopathological disorders affecting students of the LGBTQ community at once.
When assessing the severity of the effects of discrimination in LGBTQ students suffering from mental illness, it is vital to use Intersectionality as the analytical framework in order to see all sides of the issue. Due to the external stressors faced from the campus community and outside participants, as well as the internal stressors such as internalized homophobia and guilt that is faced, the effects are heightened. LGBTQ students who suffer from mental illness such as anxiety and depression will often find themselves being discriminated against for either of their identities. Whether it be academically or socially, they face much higher rates of overall mistreatment compared to their cisgender and heterosexual counterparts (Dunbar et al., 2017).
The effects of this harassment and prejudice can be detrimental to LGBTQ college students suffering from mental illness. Recent studies found “evidence of an interaction of gender and sexual identity impacting mental health such that those with minority status in both identity groups had significantly worse outcomes compared to those with only one minority identity” (Borgana et al., (2018). However, these results do not consider the effects of having multiple psychopathological illnesses at once.
While it’s evident that anxiety and depression are the main mental health illnesses that most studies evaluate, there a many more that are often missed or overlooked. As noted in the study there are other aspects to look at such as substance abuse disorder, compulsive buying, compulsive sexual behavior, and overeating (Grant, Odlaug, Derbyshire, Schreiber, Lust & Christenson, 2014). These other aspects of mental health are daunting and infringes on every part of daily life, however, they’re often overlooked or pushed to the side and categorized as other.
As mentioned before, there are usually resources for mental health on campus but as noted in a study by Dunbar et al. (2017), LGBTQ students are more likely to endorse barriers such as embarrassment, lack of confidentiality, lack of accessibility and more as reasons not to use the resources on campus. This can more likely contribute to levels of severe psychopathological distress as well as academic impairment in regards to the studies of these students. In this study, we will examine how LGBTQ Students are more at risk of having multiple psychopathological disorders compared to their cisgender and heterosexual peers.