Matthew Verdun and his researchers at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology surveyed 175 gay and lesbian adults to investigate links between the support of their families and anxiety or depression.
One of the major factors the study looked at was parental support. According to Verdun, while positive support from parents was linked to the lowest levels of depression and anxiety, negative reactions weren’t linked to much higher levels. So long as it was consistent support, either positive or negative. Individuals who reported that their parents vacillated between supportive and not supportive reported the highest levels of anxiety and depression.
It makes sense. Trust is an important comfort source, whether you’re trusting in a positive or a negative result. Being unable to trust or predict what one’s parent will think of you, day to day or month to month, is a massive source of stress.
Verdun called his findings “relevant to mental health providers working with lesbian and gay individuals who have, or desire, a strong family connection or whose families are inconsistent,” when he and his colleagues presented them to the American Psychiatric Association in a recent virtual meeting.
In Verdun’s study, 84 respondents reported positive parental support, 50 reported negative parental support, and 41 reported that their parents changed from negative to positive support. 2 respondents reported that their parents went from positive to negative support, and their data was excluded for being too small to analyze. He admits the study is small and biased – respondents were volunteers solicited on social media – but it has merit as a pilot study.
Verdun and his team plan next to focus in on those who reported negative support, and research what they did to protect their own mental health. This too is for the purpose of building a better-educated toolbox for mental health care workers who work with the LGBT community.