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More attention for trauma among sexual minorities can prevent psychological illnesses later in life

13 July 2021

Lesbian, homosexual and bisexual individuals are more likely to have had a traumatic childhood experience than heterosexual individuals, according to research conducted by the UG and Trimbos Institute. This partially explains why sexual minorities have a two to three times greater risk of developing a psychological illness.

It has previously been established that lesbian, homosexual and bisexual adults are more likely to have a psychological illness. But this insight, that people belonging to a sexual minority group are more likely to have had a traumatic childhood experience (before the age of 16) than heterosexual individuals, is new.

Traumatic childhood experience

Sexual minorities are more likely to have experienced emotional neglect and psychological, physical and sexual abuse. In addition, this group are 2.5 times more likely to have been bullied as a child. Undergoing these sorts of abuse and bullying partially explain why lesbian, homosexual and bisexual individuals are more likely to experience mental health problems.

Be alert to abuse, bullying and neglect

For lesbian, homosexual and bisexual adolescents and adults, it is important that health professionals are alert to experiences of abuse, bullying and neglect. In this manner, serious psychological problems may be prevented.

Read the whole article in the Journal of Psychiatric Research

More information

The study was carried out by the University of Groningen in collaboration with the Trimbos Institute. Data from the NEMESIS-2 study, a large-scale study into the mental health of the adult population carried out by the Trimbos Institute, was used.

If you have any content-related questions, please contact Dr Laura Baams.

Last modified:13 July 2021 12.04 p.m.
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