May 30 (UPI) -- A new study has found LGBQQ college students are more likely to seek mental health services but still face many barriers to on-campus mental health services.
Students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or questioning, or LGBQQ, were more likely to use off-campus mental health services than on-campus services, and reported being deterred by barriers such as confidentiality and uncertainty over eligibility.
The RAND Corporation study included 33,000 students from 33 public two-year and four-year colleges in California in 2013.
Researchers found that 7 percent of students surveyed identified as LGBQQ and 26 percent were more likely to report psychological distress compared to 18 percent of heterosexual students. Roughly 17 percent of LGBQQ students reported academic impairment related to mental health problems compared to 11 percent of heterosexual students, and 63 percent of LGBQQ students had higher overall levels of stress over the past month than 55 percent of heterosexual students.
Nearly 31 percent of LGBQQ students reported using some type of mental health services during college compared to 18 percent of heterosexual students.
"It's encouraging that college students who identify as sexual minorities are more likely to utilize mental health services, but our findings suggest there is a need to develop campus-based mental health services tailored to this group and address barriers to using them," Michael S. Dunbar, associate behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization, said in a press release.
LGBQQ students who needed mental health services didn't get them on campus because they reported facing barriers to using the on-campus services. Confidentiality, embarrassment about using services and concerns over eligibility were all reported as barriers to using on-campus mental health services.
"Our study underscores the need for additional actions to increase access to and use of mental health services among all students," Dr. Bradley D. Stein, physician scientist at RAND, said. "It also highlights the need for efforts to ensure that campuses' mental health services are sensitive and responsive to the needs of sexual minority students, enabling all students to address their mental health needs and maximize their chances for success in college and beyond.
The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.