Beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett has urged Australians to “lift their game” since one in three Australians still discriminate against LGBTI people.
The national mental health organisation today released new research showing that homosexual and bisexual people were twice as likely to experience anxiety and three times as likely to experience depression and related disorders.
Beyondblue also found bisexual people were more likely to experience mental illness than both same-sex attracted and heterosexual people and recognised the high levels of mental illness in Australia’s transgender community.
Beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said it was essential that people who continue to discriminate realise their actions are causing real harm.
“As a nation, we should be very concerned that the actions of so many Australians are contributing to significant levels of depression and anxiety — and even suicide — amongst GLBTI people,” she said.
To tackle these levels of increased mental illness in the LGBTI community, beyondblue and the Movember Foundation have each committed $1.5 million towards an awareness campaign to reduce discrimination and promote better mental health outcomes for the community.
At a press conference, Kennett called on Australians to give LGBTI people “a fair go”.
“The research shows that approximately 30 percent of all Australians still discriminate against gay[s] and lesbians,” he said.
Kennett said “better education” was needed which was why the two organisations will launch their awareness campaign about LGBTI discrimination later this year.
He said disrespect and the “badgering” of LGBTI people were leading to depressive illnesses and death.
“I have a view, and beyondblue has a view, that life is very short and as long as people live by the rules of the land, what right of any of us to pass judgement on anyone else, particularly if it gets to the stage where it causes distress, illness and death,” he said.
“We’re all human beings, we’re here for such a short time. Why can’t we, or why shouldn’t we, respect each other, and that’s what we’ll be trying to do.”
Kennett said the wider community had already come “a long way” but he was particularly concerned for young people who he believed were experiencing greater levels of discrimination.
“We know that gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex people experience discrimination, but I am particularly concerned about the wellbeing of young GLBTI people at school who report exceptionally high levels of psychological distress,” he said.
Beyondblue’s research found the most common place for young people to face homophobic abuse and discrimination was at school.
Earlier research has found same-sex attracted youth who had experienced abuse were up to four-and-a-half times more likely to have attempted suicide than their straight counterparts.
Kennett said things needed to change and called on Australians to question their own attitudes and behaviours towards LGBTI people.
Beyondblue also announced a new position statement on depression and anxiety in the LGBTI community which advocates for social inclusion and equal opportunity in programs, research and resources.
INFO: Lifeline 13 11 14