Sexuality and identity
People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) have an increased risk of mental illness or suicidal feelings because they suffer discrimination and exclusion.
|In NSW, most people who identify as LGBTI use mainstream mental health services so it's vital these services meet their needs.|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex
Cultural awareness and inclusion
Accessible and appropriate services
Prevention and early intervention
Tackling stigma and discrimination
Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex doesn’t mean you have an intrinsically higher risk of mental illness or suicidal feelings. But there is an increased risk for those of us who belong to LGBTI communities and it’s the result of being subjected to discrimination and exclusion.
Most international and Australian studies have found LGBTI people experience mental health issues at a significantly higher rate than heterosexual people.
- They are more than twice as likely to have anxiety disorders (in particular lesbian and bisexual women).
- They report higher rates of depression and mood disorders.
- They have significantly higher prevalence of past suicide attempts.
- Same-sex attracted youth in particular have significantly higher risks of self-harm and suicidal behaviours.
- Australian data on suicidality confirms that LGBTI groups have elevated rates of suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts.
- Gay men with HIV have higher rates of depression associated with factors such as socio-economic deprivation, isolation and withdrawal.
- Nearly three-quarters of LGBTI people report some experience of depression
The highest rates of almost all forms of violence are perpetrated against transgender people. Little data is available on the experiences of intersex Australians.
- In Australia, 2.7% of men and 2.3% of women identify as homosexual, bisexual or undecided/other sexual identify.
- 6% of men and 8.5% of women report some same-sex sexual experience.
- Transgender (which includes transsexual) people have an internal sense of gender that differs from their birth sex.
- Intersex people are born with a physical variation that differs from expectations of male or female sex.
- Up to 80% of same-sex attracted and gender-questioning young Australians experience public insult
- 20% explicit threats, 18% physical abuse, 26% 'other' forms of homophobia
- 80% of this abuse occurs at school
- Homophobic abuse and rejecting reactions are associated with feelings of shame, isolation and low self esteem, and may contribute to higher rates of self-harm, depressed mood and suicidal behaviour.
A lack of LGBTI knowledge and cultural competency leads to poor-quality service.
Issues including economic, geographic, timeliness, care co-ordination and continuing care for people undergoing gender transition – as well as the perception of a lack of LGBTI sensitivity and responsiveness – challenge accessibility for LGBTI people.
The current focus is on crisis intervention and predominantly medical models of mental health.
Discrimination and stigma are problems not only in the general community. Historically, the relationship between LGBTI communities and psychiatry has been very sensitive. This is because being LGBTI has itself been seen as a mental illness rather than the mental illness being acknowledged as a likely consequence of the discrimination, violence or exclusion they experience.
LGBTI people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds face additional barriers, such as discrimination within their own community.
It’s a challenge to find an LGBTI responsive and inclusive service in rural and remote areas of NSW, where access to mental health services in general is already limited.
Mental health and alcohol and other drug services must be integrated because of a higher rate of coexisting mental illness and alcohol or other drug dependency among LGBTI people.
Source material for content on this page is from the Living Well Report
- Aboriginal communities
- Breaking the cycle
- Drugs and alcohol
- Intellectual disability
- Multicultural communities
- Older people
- Physical health
- Rural communities
- School-aged children
- Sexuality and identity
- The justice system
- The lived experience
- The peer workforce
- The whole community
- The whole person
- Young children
- Youth and young adults