Gay men are more likely to suffer mental health problems than straight men, but the difference is less between lesbians and straight women, a report by depression initiative BeyondBlue claims.

The not-for-profit initiative by Jeff Kennett has released a new discussion report into mental health issues for same-sex attracted people claiming sexual orientation is a potential cause for depression, but mostly for gay men.

Gay and bisexual men were more likely than heterosexual men to be diagnosed with at least one of five mental health disorders (major depression, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, alcohol dependency, and drug dependency), the report stated, quoting a US study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

It said gay and bisexual men were three times more likely to meet criteria for major depression and almost five times more likely to meet criteria for a panic disorder than heterosexual men were.

The prevalence of mental health disorders between lesbian-bisexual and heterosexual women was less common than the differences found among men, the report concluded.

A new acupuncture trial will investigate if alternative and wholistic therapies are effective in treating men with depression.

The College of Traditional Chinese Medicine at UTS is looking for men who have been depressed or are currently taking medication for the first Australian clinical trial of the alternative treatment.

To date the subjects making the greatest improvement have been men, researcher Kirk Wilson said.

The aim of the trial is to increase the understanding of how acupuncture can be used in combination with drug therapy to treat depression. It is hoped that this in turn may lead to a better understanding of how drug dependency and side effects can be reduced.

The treatment involves 12 acupuncture sessions, based out of Meridian Healing Centre in the CBD.

ACON undertook community forums on mental health and depression in 2006, but was only able to secure funding for counsellor training for when mental health and drug use are both present.

Volunteers interested in the acupuncture therapy can contact the researcher Kirk Wilson on 0434 235 682 or 9231 3377.

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