Gender Nonconformity Linked to Students' Mental Distress

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Gender nonconformity is associated with mental distress for female and male students.
Gender nonconformity is associated with mental distress for female and male students.

HealthDay News — Gender nonconformity (GNC) is associated with mental distress for female and male students, according to a study published online Sept. 24 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Richard Lowry, M.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted in 2015 to examine the correlations of GNC with mental distress and substance use among high school students. Participants were a racially/ethnically diverse population-based sample of 6,082 high school students representative of all public school students in grades nine through 12 in three large urban U.S. school districts.

The researchers found that moderate GNC correlated significantly with feeding sad and hopeless, seriously considering attempting suicide, and making a suicide plan (adjusted prevalence ratios [APRs], 1.22, 1.41, and 1.52, respectively) among female students; there was no correlation for substance use with GNC. Moderate GNC correlated with feeling sad and hopeless among male students (APR, 1.55); high GNC correlated with seriously considering attempting suicide, making a suicide plan, and attempting suicide (APRs, 1.72, 1.79, and 2.78, respectively), and with non-medical use of prescription drugs, as well as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and injection drug use (APRs, 1.81, 2.84, 4.52, 4.59, and 8.05, respectively).

"These findings underscore and suggest the importance of implementing school-based programs to prevent substance use and promote student mental health that are inclusive of gender diversity in students," the authors write.

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