Objectives: We examined associations of race/ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation with mental disorders among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youths.
Methods: We assessed mental disorders by administering a structured diagnostic interview to a community sample of 246 LGBT youths aged 16 to 20 years. Participants also completed the Brief Symptom Inventory 18 (BSI 18).
Results: One third of participants met criteria for any mental disorder, 17% for conduct disorder, 15% for major depression, and 9% for posttraumatic stress disorder. Anorexia and bulimia were rare. Lifetime suicide attempts were frequent (31%) but less so in the prior 12 months (7%). Few racial/ethnic and gender differences were statistically significant. Bisexually identified youths had lower prevalences of every diagnosis. The BSI 18 had high negative predictive power (90%) and low positive predictive power (25%) for major depression.
Conclusions: LGBT youths had higher prevalences of mental disorder diagnoses than youths in national samples, but were similar to representative samples of urban, racial/ethnic minority youths. Suicide behaviors were similar to those among representative youth samples in the same geographic area. Questionnaires measuring psychological distress may overestimate depression prevalence among this population.