Negative social interactions affect the relationship between sexual orientation and mental health for Canadians

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University of New Brunswick


Canadians who identify as non-heterosexual experience higher rates of mental illness than those who identify as heterosexual, which is often misconstrued to be a direct result of sexual orientation; however, minority stress theory (MST) suggests that increased social negativity could be the cause. Using the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health (CCHS-MH), I tested the application of the MST on a sample of approximately 19,000 Canadians aged 20 years and older. I discovered that negative social interactions mediated the relationship between sexual orientation and various mental health and substance use disorder outcomes. In addition, the meditational ability of negative social interaction differed when childhood maltreatment was included as a covariate. Lastly, sex-based differences revealed that females reported a greater health penalty for their non-heterosexual identity than males. Overall, the current results suggest that a substantial component of the sexual orientation-mental health relationship is influenced by poor social exchanges. Keywords: Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual, negative social interactions, mental health, substance use disorder, Minority Stress Theory