LGBT Australians are experiencing worrying levels of depression and anxiety, a national study has found.
The La Trobe University study — Private Lives 2 (PL2) — which surveyed more than 4000 LGBT people, found almost 80 percent of participants ha
d experienced at least one episode of intense anxiety in the last 12 months.
More than a quarter of respondents had been diagnosed with, or treated for, an anxiety disorder during that same time.
La Trobe lead researcher Liam Leonard said discrimination was likely to be to be a key factor in the result.
“While the research documents show an increased acceptance of GLBT people and marginal improvements in their general health, it also shows GLBT people continue to experience much higher levels of abuse and discrimination,” Leonard said.
“A likely outcome of this is the poorer mental health participants had compared with the population at large.”
It’s the second time the wide-ranging study on LGBT health and wellbeing has been conducted. The first Private Lives study was released in 2006 and was, at that time, the largest survey of its kind anywhere in the world.
This year’s study, which involved participants ranging from 16 to 89 years old, also found people aged 16 – 24 were more likely than any other age group to hide their sexuality or gender identity.
Many respondents said they would ‘occasionally’ or ‘usually’ hide their sexuality or gender identity for fear of heterosexist violence or discrimination, 44 percent said they would hide it in public, and 33.6 percent when accessing health services.
The report found that while more than three quarters of respondents said they saw a GP regularly, only 69 percent said their GP knew about their sexuality.
In terms of general health, both men and women scored lower than the national average, while trans men and women reported the lowest levels of general health.
Depression and anxiety were the most common health conditions, with depression rates soaring up to 50 percent in trans men.
Trans men and women also reported the highest levels of psychological distress.
Rates of drug use were also higher than the national average, with almost a quarter of participants reporting they used marijuana in the past 12 months.
Beyondblue chair Jeff Kennett, who helped launch the findings on Tuesday, said the national depression initiative will launch an awareness campaign in the coming months to address the “disturbing” statistics in the report.
“This research strengthens our resolve to continue our work with this community to reduce discrimination and improve help-seeking,” Kennett said.
The research was funded by beyondblue, the Movember Foundation, the Victorian Department of Health, and La Trobe University.
Victorian Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge also helped launch the report.