A Mixed-Methods Study of Social Identities in Mental Health Care Among LGBTQ Young Adults of Color

Kiara Moore, David Camacho, Kimberly N. Spencer-Suarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social identities have been shown to reflect normative beliefs and practices that can impact important health behaviors. A better understanding of how this process unfolds among young people with marginalized identities can help inform strategies to decrease mental health disparities and improve their overall health outcomes. A mixed method, convergent parallel design was used to examine identity centrality, mental health treatment history, and cultural experiences of a purposeful sample, consisting of 31 Black and Latinx young adults (Mage = 22.16) who identified as sexual and gender minorities in New York City. Data from validated measures and in-depth interviews were triangulated to strengthen and add context to findings.Participants with higher social identity centrality scores, particularly on community belonging and sexual identity, were more likely to continuously use mental health services. Seven social identities were prominent in qualitative data: Sexual, Ethnic–racial, Religious, Socioeconomic, Gender, Family, and Generational. These social identities were described as interconnected, and as both significant barriers and facilitators to participants’ involvement in treatment. Results suggested that young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) people of color seeking mental health care might need more support to navigate experiences related to intersecting identities. Interventions to improve services and maintain these youth in treatment should employ strategies to assess and support positive minority identity development, while also addressing self-stigma and discrimination experienced through culture, family, and mental health professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)724-737
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021


  • Black
  • Latino
  • mental health services
  • social identity
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Homosexuality, Female
  • Young Adult
  • Social Identification
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Social Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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