Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mental Health Benefits of Coming Out Depend on Context

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A recently published study has examined the mental health effects of disclosing one’s identity as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) in different social contexts. In the online June 20 issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers at the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester in Rochester, New York and the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex in Essex, United Kingdom, performed an online survey of 161 anonymous participants who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. They asked participants to complete measures of the same predictor and outcome variables across five possible social contexts in their lives: friends, family, coworkers, school, and religious community. Their findings supported the potential value of coming out, but somewhat conditionally, as individuals who disclosed more tended to experience greater wellness only in a supportive atmosphere. Disclosing in controlling social contexts was not associated with these positive emotional outcomes.

“This research has implications for practitioners providing treatment to LGB individuals because it suggests that people experience greater wellness when they come out in certain contexts, but certainly not all contexts,” said the researchers. See Psychiatric News for another recent study of the mental health of LGB youth:


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