30% of LGBTQIA+ College Students Have Considered Dropping Out Due to Mental Health

The majority of LGBTQIA+ college students say their mental health has worsened since being in school.

June 9, 2022 · Updated on June 10, 2022

30% of LGBTQIA+ College Students Have Considered Dropping Out Due to Mental Health
Data Studies
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  • 92% of LGBTQIA+ college students report their mental health has negatively impacted their college experience.
  • Almost a third of LGBTQIA+ college students (30%) had thoughts of suicide during the past year — nearly double the rate of straight students (16%).
  • 35% of LGBTQIA+ college students say the expense of mental health assistance has prevented them from seeking treatment.
  • LGBTQIA+ college students who also identify as BIPOC are more likely to say they haven't sought mental health assistance than white LGBTQIA+ students.

In a new BestColleges survey of 308 LGBTQIA+ college students, more than 1 in 4 (30%) say they have considered dropping out of school due to their mental health status.

The majority of LGBTQIA+ students (58%) also say their mental health has worsened since they've been in school.

Among students with worsened mental health, nearly three quarters (72%) report that they've experienced feelings of self-doubt most days during the past year.

In addition, the majority of LGBTQIA+ students with worsened mental health report they've experienced symptoms of anxiety (75%) and depression (64%), and nearly 2 in 5 (38%) say they've experienced thoughts of suicide during the last year.

BIPOC students are slightly more likely than their white LGBTQIA+ peers to say their mental health has worsened since being in school (61% vs. 56%).

LGBTQIA+ Students Are More Likely to Experience Negative Mental Health Symptoms

LGBTQIA+ students are significantly more likely than students who identify as straight to say they've experienced symptoms of anxiety (66% vs. 49%), depression (53% vs. 34%), burnout (64% vs. 41%), hopelessness (46% vs. 29%), and self-doubt (63% vs. 45%) during the past year.

LGBTQIA+ students are also more likely to say they have experienced symptoms of social isolation and/or loneliness (52% vs. 34%), disappointment or sadness (57% vs. 37%), increased procrastination (62% vs. 39%), and decreased motivation/lack of focus/problems concentrating (65% vs. 40%).

Almost a third of LGBTQIA+ students (30%) say they have experienced thoughts of suicide within the past year, nearly double the percentage of straight students (16%).

There are other notable differences in the negative mental health symptoms experienced by white and BIPOC respondents.

White LGBTQIA+ students are significantly more likely than BIPOC LGBTQIA+ students to say they have experienced symptoms of anxiety (73% vs. 58%), burnout (77% vs. 49%), disappointment or sadness (62% vs. 51%), increased procrastination (68% vs. 56%), decreased physical activity (55% vs. 42%), and struggles with time management (64% vs. 46%).

Nearly 50% of LGBTQIA+ Students Lost Interest in Studies Due to Mental Health

The overwhelming majority of LGBTQIA+ students (92%) report that their mental health status has negatively impacted at least one aspect of their college experience. Many report not taking good enough care of their basic needs (53%) and a loss of interest in their studies or college life (49%).

A little under half of LGBTQIA+ college students (46%) say they have felt isolated and not able to connect with others, while 44% say their grades have decreased. About 1 in 5 students (19%) in this diverse group have had to drop classes due to their mental health status.

Most LGBTQIA+ Students Count Friends as Part of Their Support System

When it comes to receiving support, the majority of LGBTQIA+ students turn to their friends (66%) and parent(s) or guardian(s) (46%).

Still, LGBTQIA+ students are significantly less likely than those who identify as straight to say they consider their parent(s) or guardian(s) as part of their support system (46% vs. 60%).

Beyond the individuals they go to for support, more than half of LGBTQIA+ students (56%) say that their institution adding "mental health days" to the schedule to encourage school-life balance would better support their mental health needs.

Many also say that the acknowledgement of student mental health as an issue would better support these needs (42%).

Thirty-four percent say providing life skills classes would help, 31% are in favor of increasing the number of counselors on campus, and 30% believe integrating mental health into academic activities would better support their mental health.

71% of LGBTQIA+ Students Have Sought Mental Health Assistance

Almost three quarters of LGBTQIA+ college students (71%) say they have sought or are currently involved in mental health assistance programs or services.

The largest percentage of respondents have sought or are involved in programs and services offered outside of their institutions (33%). Just over a quarter of students (26%) have utilized programs and services offered by their school, while just over a tenth of students (12%) are taking advantage of programs and services offered both in and outside of their schools.

Still, more than a third of LGBTQIA+ college students (35%) say the expense of mental health assistance and other financial difficulties is a barrier that has prevented them from seeking help.

Additionally, equal percentages of college students from this diverse group say difficulties getting an appointment (29%) and a lack of counselors with identities similar to their own (29%) are barriers that have prevented them seeking mental health assistance.

Respondents who selected "other" wrote in to say that judgment from family, constant moving around, and a lack of counselors equipped to understand their personal situation are barriers that have prevented them from seeking mental health assistance.

Methodology

The survey was conducted from April 28-May 3, 2022. Student respondents were fielded by Lucid LLC. Survey participants included 1,000 currently enrolled undergraduate students nationwide, 308 LGBTQIA+ students, 673 straight students, and 19 students who preferred not to report their sexual identity/orientation. Respondents were 18-26 years of age, enrolled at a college or university, and pursuing a bachelor's or associate degree. The respondents for the survey were screened by various quality checks, including systems like Relevant ID, and responses were manually reviewed to ensure consistency and accuracy.