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Study shows gay twins have better mental health

A group of UCLA researchers were surprised to find that heterosexual twins suffered more mental distress than their gay siblings when they set out to find why straight men have trouble asking for help
UCLA's medical faculty
Photo: Nikhil Kulkarni

Psychologists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have found that heterosexual twins do worse psychologically than their gay twins, and are more reluctant in seeking help.

The researchers took 38 pairs of identical twins where one twin was straight and the other gay and found that gay men in the study were more likely to seek help for psychological problems than their heterosexual sibling.

However the researchers were surprised to find that the gay twins also reported experiencing less psychological problems.

The researchers believe the disparity in seeking help was due to greater pressure on heterosexual men to appear strong.

‘Men would rather drive around lost than stop and ask for directions,’ the researchers wrote in their paper The Relationship Between Help-Seeking Attitudes and Masculine Norms Among Monozygotic Male Twins Discordant for Sexual Orientation.

‘Although this is a gross stereotype, the notion that men should be self-sufficient and able to solve their own problems is a dominant ideal within traditional views of masculinity... men who rigidly adhere to such ideals may harm their own health if they avoid seeking help when they need it.

‘In general, heterosexual men are less favorable to asking for help compared to women and gay men. This can be problematic if a man avoids professional help when he is experiencing significant psychological distress.’

The researchers concluded that their findings ‘lend credence to the hypothesis that social environments influence attitudes and behaviors that are stereotypically masculine and potentially detrimental to men's health.’

However the researchers were at a loss to explain why heterosexual twins in the study reported higher levels of paranoia, hostility, anger, stress and psychosis than their gay siblings.

Other studies have shown that LGBT individuals have poorer mental health than the wider community because of the prejudice they experience.

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