closeup of Arjan-Van-Der-Star.

Arjan Van Der Star, Ph.D., M.Sc.

Pronouns: he, him

Research Assistant Faculty of Psychology

College of Sciences
Department of Psychology

San Diego

Office Hours

By Appointment

6363 Alvarado Ct., Ste. 101/14
San Diego, CA 92120-4913
Mail Code

Areas of Expertise

Sexual Orientation-Based and Gender Identity-Based Mental Health Disparities, Minority Stress, Structural Stigma, Systems of Oppression Social Epidemiology

Student Opportunities

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Dr. Arjan van der Star is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at San Diego State University. As a social epidemiologist and public health researcher, his research primarily focuses on the mental health of sexual and gender minority populations.

More specifically, Dr. Van der Star studies the complex mechanisms underlying sexual orientation-based and gender identity-based mental health disparities by examining 1) how sexual and gender minority stigma and related stressors may explain disparities in mental health, 2) how such stigma may operate within a multi-level socio-ecological system surrounding sexual and gender minorities, and 3) how stigma-related factors may interact across these various levels of sexual and gender minority stigma.

Through his research, Dr. Van der Star aims to further the theoretical understanding of what drives and causes adverse mental health among sexual and gender minorities, to inform effective policies on how to reduce the risk for such adverse mental health outcomes, but also, by illuminating the mechanisms underlying the link between sexual and gender minority stigma and poor mental health, to inform affirming psychotherapy tailored for sexual and gender minorities.

Dr. Van der Star directs the Society, Equity, Stigma, and Health Lab (SESH Lab) and he is the co-founder and co-director of the Center for the Integration of Public Health and Clinical Psychology in Health Equity Research (CIPHER) at San Diego State University.


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  1. Ph.D. Public Health & Social Epidemiology
    Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
  2. M.Sc. Health Economics, Policy & Law
    Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  3. B.Sc. Health Policy & Management
    Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  1. Askew AJ, Randall A, Alvarez JC, Elbe CI, Caravelli N, Gonzales M 4th, Van der Star A, Blashill AJ. Examining the association of structural stigmas with body image-related outcomes among sexual minority individuals. Body Image. 2023 Dec 22;48:101652. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2023.101652. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38141492.
  2. Feinstein BA, Van der Star A, Dorrell KD, Blashill AJ. Sexual orientation and mental health in a US cohort of children: a longitudinal mediation study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2024 Feb;65(2):188-198. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.13873. Epub 2023 Aug 10. PMID: 37565595; PMCID: PMC10841149.
  3. Randall AB, Van der Star A, Pennesi JL, Siegel JA, Blashill AJ. Gender identity-based disparities in self-injurious thoughts and behaviors among pre-teens in the United States. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2023 Apr;53(2):241-249. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12937. Epub 2022 Dec 23. PMID: 36562588.
  4. Van der Star A, Bränström R, Pachankis JE. Lifecourse-varying structural stigma, minority stress reactions and mental health among sexual minority male migrants. Eur J Public Health. 2021 Oct 11;31(4):803-808. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckab032. PMID: 34008014; PMCID: PMC8527997.
  5. Van der Star A, Pachankis JE, Bränström R. Country-Level Structural Stigma, School-Based and Adulthood Victimization, and Life Satisfaction Among Sexual Minority Adults: A Life Course Approach. J Youth Adolesc. 2021 Jan;50(1):189-201. doi: 10.1007/s10964-020-01340-9. Epub 2020 Nov 16. PMID: 33196894; PMCID: PMC7815544.
  6. Van der Star, A. (2020). Structural, interpersonal, and individual factors influencing sexual orientation- based disparities in mental health: a socio-ecological perspective on sexual minority stigma. Stockholm, Sweden: Karolinska Institutet University Library.
  7. Bränström R, Van der Star A, Pachankis JE. Untethered lives: barriers to societal integration as predictors of the sexual orientation disparity in suicidality. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2020 Jan;55(1):89-99. doi: 10.1007/s00127-019-01742-6. Epub 2019 Jul 12. PMID: 31300892.
  8. Van der Star, A., Pachankis, J. E., & Bränström, R. (2019). Sexual orientation openness and depression symptoms: A population-based study. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 6(3), 369–381.
  9. Van der Star A, Bränström R. Acceptance of sexual minorities, discrimination, social capital and health and well-being: a cross-European study among members of same-sex and opposite-sex couples. BMC Public Health. 2015 Aug 21;15:812. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-2148-9. PMID: 26293450; PMCID: PMC4546131.
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  1. Van der Star, A., “The Mental Health Consequences of Life Course-Varying Exposure to Structural Sexual Minority Stigma: Advancing Causal Inference Using Longitudinal Models Moderated by Sexual Orientation (R03MH132025),” Sponsored by National Institute of Mental Health, Federal, $150,500. (September 1, 2022 – August 31, 2024).
  2. Van der Star, A., “The Socioecology of Sexual Minority Stigma: Data Harmonization to Address Confounding Bias and Investigate Cross-Level Mental Health Effects (R01MH133821),” Sponsored by National Institute of Mental Health, Federal, $1,415,180. (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2026).
Clinical Trials
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Awards & Honors
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Patents & Copyrights
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  1. De Wolf, S. (2021, September 10). Rotterdam Pride: Arjan van der Star. Hij die onderdrukking toestaat, deelt in de misdaad / One who allows oppression, shares the crime.
  2. Norberg, L. (2020, December 1). Komplext samspel när stigma formar den psykiska hälsan hos sexuella minoriteter / Complex interplay when stigma shapes the mental health of sexual minorities.
Fun Facts
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