The truth about mental health in the gay community

The truth about mental health in the gay community
Image: (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

YOUNG gay and bisexual men stand a greater risk for mental health issues than straight men.

The results of a new study revealed mental health issues varied greatly among men who have sex with men (MSM), but high levels of income and living with a male partner decreased the likelihood of men suffering from depression or anxiety.

 Conducted in the United Kingdom and released in the Journal of Public Health, the survey was one of only a few that focused on the mental health of MSM.

“Typically national and government surveys – even if they are quite large – only have a few gay and bisexual men in them,” lead author Ford Hickson told Reuters Health.

“They’re good at comparing gay and bisexual men to other men, but there are too few to do comparisons within the group.”

Findings revealed about 21 per cent of participants were depressed, 17 per cent had anxiety, about seven per cent had harmed themselves in the past year and three per cent had attempted suicide.

Participants under the age of 26 were at greater risk for poor mental health: about 29 per cent were depressed, 24 per cent reported anxiety, about 14 had per cent harmed themselves in the past year and about 6 percent had tried to kill themselves.

Men who were a part of an ethnic minority, had low levels of education or were also attracted to women also faced greater risk of poor mental health.

If you are experiencing difficulties and would like to speak to someone, contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

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3 responses to “The truth about mental health in the gay community”

  1. Kris quoting the research paper of 5799 participants “The median age was 32 years and the majority (78%) were
    under 45 years of age..”. They found: “All four negative outcomes became less likely with increasing
    age. The odds of men aged under 26 years suffering poor
    mental health were between 2 times (depression and anxiety)
    and 7 times (suicide attempt and self-harm) higher than for
    men aged 45 years and over.” They concluded; “Community interventions to increase mental health among gay and bisexual men should be designed to disproportionately benefit younger men and those living on lower incomes.”

    With results like that we must focus on where the real need is and that is young people. Any other focus would be irresponsible. But that does not mean people above 26 years old should be ignored. The results and therefore the response should be more nuanced than the black and white you suggest. As an older person with mental health disorders I think it is important to remember that lack of services is not the problem but stigma and reticence to seek help are the key problems.

  2. We all exist .. young and old. Living with a mental illness is tough. I know my future isn’t looking so sure as it has sometimes, due to my mental illness. My promising career has dissolved. I am only one of many with an unsure future due to how our coin rolled. Encouraging wishes for the young and old people living with this type of illness. Take care. xo

  3. Young gay & bisexual men……. Um not all gay & bisexual men are young the old, ancient, past their use by date, & / or fossils also suffer from mental health issues, But hey lets just solely publicly emphasis & concentrate on the young ones, after all us “oldies” don’t exist.