Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2020 Sep 4. doi: 10.1007/s00127-020-01943-4. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: Mental health disparities have been documented among sexual minority college students, but there is a dearth of evidence from developing countries. The aim is to estimate the prevalence of 12-month mental and substance use disorders across a range of sexual identities among first-year college students in Mexican universities, and test whether there is an association between sexual identity and disorders and whether the association is moderated by gender.
METHOD: The University Project for Healthy Students, a web-based survey conducted as part of the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health International College Student initiative, recruited 7874 students from nine Mexican universities in 2016 and 2017. Logistic regressions estimated the association of sexual identity with 12-month major depressive episode, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, alcohol abuse/dependence, and drug abuse/dependence, with interaction terms for gender.
RESULTS: Compared to heterosexual students reporting no same-sex attraction (SSA), heterosexual students with SSA (AORs range 1.77-3.67) and lesbian/gay and bisexual students (AORs range 2.22-5.32) were at a higher risk for several disorders. Asexual students were at higher risk for drug abuse/dependence (AOR = 3.64). Students unsure of their sexual identity were at a higher risk for major depressive episode, panic disorder, and drug abuse/dependence (AORs range 2.25-3.82). Gender differences varied across sexual identity and disorder.
CONCLUSION: These findings are the first empirical report of sexual minority psychiatric disparities among a college student population from a developing nation and underscore the importance of clinical interventions that address mental health needs among sexual minority college students.