These young adults are significantly more likely to develop sleep and mood disorders compared to their cis peers. In this Verywell Mind article, Mindpath Health’s Brandi Garza, LPC, gives tips on when to get help.

Trans College Students Are More Prone to Sleep Disorders, Study Finds

Marginalized groups often face health inequities due to oppression. A recent study found that transgender college students experience greater sleep challenges than their cis peers.

This cross-sectional study was conducted with 221,549 college students across the US and Canada and found that trans participants were significantly more likely to develop both sleep and mood disorders.

Understanding the research

This study, based on surveys from college students across North America, found that trans participants were 35% more likely to report inadequate sleep, 51% more likely to have trouble falling asleep, and 245% more likely to have a sleep disorder than their cis peers.

Researchers found that trans participants were 295% more likely to report depression, 253% more likely to report anxiety, 345% more likely to consider suicide, and 421% more likely to attempt suicide.

Trans people deserve solidarity efforts

Therapist with Mindpath Health, Brandi Garza, LPC, says, “We can say with certainty that members of the trans community suffer significantly disproportionate rates than their cis counterparts.”

Garza explains, “The average cis individual can become an ally to trans and gender divergent people, and in this instance college students specifically, which can begin with inclusivity in the most basic humanistic needs available on any campus or public place.”

By highlighting how grade schools across America have begun teaching their staff and scholars concepts like “see something say something,” Garza underscores the need to intervene if trans people experience discrimination, harassment or bullying. “We must not stay quiet out of embarrassment or not knowing what to say or do,” she says.

Garza explains, “In the same way that most of us would respond with urgency to domestic abuse or child abuse, our trans community demands safety. Perhaps the most important act as a human being that we can do to alleviate struggles that the trans and gender divergent college students face is a lack of connection to their human peers.”

Garza notes that marginalized populations are often more vulnerable to mental health concerns, but she underscores that she has personally never seen numbers like these when speaking to how much more vulnerable an oppressed group is, in comparison to their privileged counterparts.

The pandemic likely exacerbated concerns

Psychologist and clinical communications lead at Big Health, Marie Atallah, PhD, says, “The connection between mental health and sleep is well-documented and researched, and is very closely connected.”

Atallah explains, “If an individual is experiencing poor sleep, in turn, tiredness affects cognitive skills such as attention and memory, to coping with daily life, which can ultimately lead to increased anxiety and distress. Increased anxiety and distress also impact how well you sleep.”

For trans college students in North America, Atallah notes how the added stress of the college environment can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and distress and further impact their mental health and wellbeing.

Since mental health needs worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, social injustice, an unwelcoming political climate, social media, etc., Atallah notes how many may be left with even less support options, due to therapist shortages and burnout, cost, and stigma-seeking help.

Personalized and confidential mental health support is critical for a marginalized population like trans college students, according to Atallah.

Atallah highlights, “Digital therapeutics can serve as safe, effective mental health treatments for trans college students; providing access to the program at anytime, anywhere, at their convenience, without the requirement of visiting an in-person location on campus where their safety could be at risk or the experience of stigma by a counselor.”

Cis students have the opportunity and responsibility to be advocates for the trans communities, as Atallah notes how they can serve as allies on campus by listening and making space for trans students.

Read the full Verywell Mind article with sources.

Brandi Garza, LPC

Dallas, TX

Few people know at a young age what their purpose is. At 11 years old, Brandi Garza declared therapy to be hers! As a person adopted at 13 years old, she has the unique lens of living on “both sides of the tracks”. Brandi lived an experience as a child of parents in poverty, with addiction, and severe mental illness. She attributed her ... Read Full Bio »

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