Angela Matijczak, a first-year doctoral student at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work, led a study exploring how social support from humans and comfort from companion animals can help LGBTQ+ young adults deal with micro-aggressions. The study, “The Moderating Effect of Comfort from Companion Animals and Social Support on the Relationship between Micro-aggressions and Mental Health in LGBTQ+ Emerging Adults,” is featured on the cover of the January issue of the journal Behavioral Sciences.
LGBTQ+ people often experience micro-aggressions, which are typically unconscious behaviors or statements aimed at members of a marginalized group that reflect a hostile or discriminatory message. Micro-aggressions have been linked to detrimental mental health outcomes, such as higher rates of depressive, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress symptoms; lower self-esteem; and negative perceptions of one’s own LGBTQ+ identity.
Previous studies have found that social support from humans can serve as an important protective factor against these negative mental health outcomes for LGBTQ+ emerging adults. An unexplored area of research, however, is whether pets might also serve a protective role.
The study, which involved a sample of 134 LGBTQ+ emerging adults, found that social support from humans moderated the relationship between micro-aggressions and depressive symptoms. Comfort from pets, meanwhile, also moderated the relationship between interpersonal micro-aggressions and depressive symptoms. But for participants who had high or medium levels of emotional comfort from pets, micro-aggressions were positively associated with depressive symptoms.
Read more at MedicalPress.com.