A study published in 2009 by the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health found that 48.5 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals reported receiving mental health treatment in the past year, compared with 22.5 percent of heterosexuals. The researchers furthermore noted that lesbians and bisexual women were most likely to receive treatment, and heterosexual men were least likely.
And a new national study led by Lisa Lindley, associate professor in Mason's Department of Global and Community Health within the College of Health and Human Services, found results that echo those found in 2009.
According to Lindley’s research, “Bisexual women are more likely than their male counterparts to suffer from depression and stress and to binge-drink; bisexual women also are at greater risk to smoke and be victimized.”
Lindley and her co-authors Katrina M. Walsemann and Jarvis W. Carter Jr. of the University of South Carolina used a nationally representative sample of 14,412 people — 7,696 women and 6,716 men — in the survey. The survey first was given in 1994-95 when the respondents were enrolled in grades 7-12 and given again in 2007-08 when they were 24 to 32 years old.
Of those surveyed, 68.1 percent were white and 43.9 percent were married. The mean age was 28.8, and about 43 percent had some college or vocational training.
Respondents could say they’re “mostly gay” or “mostly straight,” along with straight, bisexual, gay or no sexual identity.
Lindley notes that both bisexual girls and boys were more likely to be high-risk for depression, stress and alcohol abuse when they were teenagers compared to their heterosexual counterparts. But she found that the odds dropped for men as they got older, but that wasn’t the case for women.
Lindley’s results showed that strictly gay, lesbian or straight individuals were not victimized to the same extent as bisexual women.
"Bisexuals are often invisible. There's a lot of prejudice against them. They're told 'You're confused -- pick one.' There tends to be this expectation or standard that a person picks one sexual identity and sticks with it.