Minority Stress and Health among Sexual Minority Youth in Ireland

Cathy Kelleher, Dublin Institute of Technology

Document Type Article

Published in Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 2009.


Historically, the pathologisation of LGBTQ orientations shaped research and professional practice, while the impact of stigma was not considered. Within a minority stress conceptualisation however, stigma-related prejudice and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ people constitute chronically stressful events that can lead to negative health outcomes. Minority stress has been linked to psychological distress among gay men and lesbians and may contribute to elevated rates of distress frequently observed among LGBTQ youth. This study explored the impact of minority stress on psychological distress among LGBTQ youth in Ireland. Measures assessing three components of minority stress (sexual identity distress, stigma consciousness, and heterosexist experiences) were administered online to LGBTQ youth aged 16-24 years (N=301). Each minority stressor had a significant independent association with distress. Stepwise regression analyses identified the linear combination of minority stressors as significantly predictive of distress [F(3,201)=30.80, P=< .001]. Results suggest that the oppressive social environment created through sexual/gender identity-related stigma negatively impacts on the well-being of LGBTQ youth. Findings have implications for health professionals and policy makers interested in the concerns of LGBTQ youth who are experiencing difficulties related to minority status and will facilitate the development and tailoring of interventions aimed at reaching those most at risk.