Discrimination linked to disastrous mental health

pills February 1st, 2011 by Ruth.Pearce

A new study reveals that lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are more likely to experience mental health problems than heterosexual people. It suggests that high rates of unhappiness, alcohol dependence, drug abuse, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and and self-harm are influenced by homophobic and biphobic discrimination.

The findings, which are published in the latest issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, emerged from a survey of 7403 randomly selected households conducted in 2007. By comparing heterosexual and non-heterosexual respondents, researchers showed that LGB people were almost twice as likely to report self harm, alcohol dependency and recent depressive episodes. Only 30 per cent of LGB participants described themselves as “fairly” or “very” happy, compared with 40 per cent of heterosexual participants.

The paper also reports that LGB people are more likely to see mental health practitioners and make use of community care services. Statistical analysis linked “discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation” to “certain neurotic disorder outcomes”.

Lead researcher Dr Apu Chakraborty says that the findings are “very worrying”. Pink Therapy director Dominic Davies told WebMD Health News that: “Living in a world which treats sexual minorities as mad, bad and dangerous to know, causes mental health distress and leads many people to self-medicating the stress through drugs and alcohol”.

Previous studies have also demonstrated that LGB people are likely to suffer from mental health problems and experience discrimination when using health services. However, this is the first time that the extent of the problem has been revealed by statistics from a large, random sample of the general population.

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