Adverse Mental Health Outcomes Of LGBT Victorians Have An Economic Cost: Report

Adverse Mental Health Outcomes Of LGBT Victorians Have An Economic Cost: Report
Image: Thorne Harbour Health at Midsumma Pride March 2022. Image: Facebook.

A new study has revealed that the economic and financial cost of poor mental health outcomes of LGBTQI victorians is to the tune of over $ 3 billion.

Trigger Warning: This story discusses mental health of LGBTQI and suicidal ideation, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

The report, commissioned by Thorne Harbour Health, was prepared by Deloitte. “When you look at the rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide, the message is clear – LGBTIQ  mental health is in crisis,” Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth said in a statement. 

“For the first time, we can actually see what this crisis costs our communities as well as  a compelling economic case for why investing in LGBTIQ+ mental health can benefit all  Victorians,” said Ruth. 

LGBTQI At A Higher Risk Of Mental Health Outcomes

Around 7.2 percent  to 10 percent of Victoria’s population is estimated to be LGBTQI and growing. As compared to the general population LGBTQI Victorians are at a higher risk of mental health outcomes. 

Seven out of 10 LGBTQI Victorians have had suicidal ideation in their lifetime compared to one in 10 among the general population. The rate of lifetime mental health for LGBTQI Victorians is 73 percent, higher than the 43 per cent in the general population.

According to the report the poor mental health outcomes for LGBTQI Victorians are caused by a number of factors, including “systemic discrimination and marginalisation within society and within the health system, individual and collective trauma from past criminalisation and policing of our identities, impact of so-called conversion practices, isolation from community in regional and rural areas, increased drug and alcohol use, unique community impacts of suicide and the intersections of other marginalised identities.”

LGBTQI Victorians Bear The Greatest Costs

The study looked at the cost of illness and the impact on the individual, their family, friends, colleagues, staff involved in providing incident response services, medical care or bereavement services.  This study estimated that “the economic and financial cost of these conditions in Victoria in 2019 was $2.2 to $3.0 billion. The intangible costs amounted to $16.8 to $23.4 billion.”

LGBTQI Victorians bore the “greatest costs of these poorer health outcomes due to loss of wellbeing and years of life lost,” the report found. 

The report reiterated the need for targeted responses and investment in LGBTQI specific mental health services. The report “demonstrates the need for a mental health system which meets the specific needs of LGBTIQ+ Victorians, as well as one that seeks to support early intervention in order to reduce the impact of poor mental health within LGBTIQ+ communities.”

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