Date of Award

Winter 4-29-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)

First Advisor

Michael R. Woodford

Second Advisor

Simon Coulombe

Third Advisor

Todd Coleman


College years have long been understood to be a difficult yet important developmental period in an individual’s life, which may be particularly challenging for sexual minority students who tend to face discrimination on campus, which can undermine their mental health. Research in both college student and non-college student samples has shown that mostly heterosexual is a distinct sexual orientation. However, little is known about the wellbeing of individuals, including college students, who identify as mostly heterosexual. Moreover, among college students, little is known about the intersections between a mostly heterosexual identity and mental health. This study examined the association between sexual orientation and anxiety, depression, and risk for alcohol abuse. Specifically, it compared outcomes between students who identify as mostly heterosexual and students who identify as completely heterosexual. This study also compared outcomes between mostly heterosexual participants and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGB+) students (as one group) to investigate potential differences among sexual minority students. In order to attempt to explain why differences exist, the mediating role of discrimination, namely incivility and hostility, were investigated. Several key findings emerged showing that mostly heterosexuals differ significantly from their completely heterosexual and LGB+ peers, in terms of their mental health and the role that forms of discrimination play in explaining disparities. Implications for the field of social work and other allied health professionals are discussed.