Université de Montréal

It’s well known: Studies show that young people of sexual diversity – that is, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth – use more cannabis and have more mental health challenges. than their heterosexual peers. But what about changes in cannabis use rates: do they precede those related to mental health or is it the other way around? A new study from the University of Montreal offers some answers.
In the scientific journal Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Kira London-Nadeau, doctoral student and CIHR Vanier Fellow at the Department of Psychology at UdeM and at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center, provides an update. Participants were followed from the age of five months and the study was based on their responses to questionnaires collected at 13, 15 and 17 years old. Although there was an association between symptoms of depression at age 15 and increased cannabis use at age 17 in the general sample, the association was five times stronger among LGB youth. According to Kira London-Nadeau, this relationship could signal the practice of self-medication with cannabis to cope with symptoms of depression in LGB youth. The use of cannabis for these purposes could also indicate that other sources of support for symptoms of depression are lacking or inappropriate to the realities of LGB youth.
Unexpectedly, the study also found that anxiety symptoms in LGB people at age 15 predicted a reduction in cannabis use at age 17. This result therefore seems to contradict that between depression and cannabis use in the LGB group.

« The difference between the depression-cannabis relationship and the anxiety-cannabis relationship could indicate different realities that LGB youth would experience, especially with regard to their public display of their minority sexual orientation, » argues Kira London-Nadeau. Thus, the researcher believes that the social factors related to the experience of a minority sexual orientation play an important role both in cannabis use and in the challenges related to mental health, as well as in their relationship among adolescent girls and adolescents. In this regard, she underlines the need for the services offered to young people, particularly in the area of ​​mental health, to be better equipped.
“As a teenager you are constantly trying to understand your identity as a person, which in itself is quite difficult. When you add the discovery of a minority sexual orientation to this development of identity, things get even more complicated, ”says the young researcher, identifying herself as a lesbian woman.
“Now, it is a question of deepening the why of these associations and of making sure to include other communities who could live similar experiences, including trans and non-binary adolescents, as well as young people. adults of sexual and gender diversity, she continues. These results will be crucial for these communities, because they will allow us to better target the needs in order to finally achieve a more equitable level of parity with regard to their health « .