Discrimination against gay men, lesbians and bi-sexuals could lead to mental health problems

November 30, 2004

A team of researchers have discovered that high levels of discrimination could lead to an increase in mental health problems among gay men, lesbians and bi-sexual men and women.

In a report published today in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the team from Imperial College London, University College London and the University of Brighton found that high levels of discrimination including physical attacks and bullying could be linked to high levels of mental disorder.

Dr James Warner from Imperial College London, and one of the paper's authors, comments: "The results of this research show that there is a likely link between levels of discrimination and an increased risk of mental health problems. It seems that high levels of discrimination including physical attack or verbal insults and previous school bullying can lead to an increased risk of mental health problems."

The team surveyed 1,285 gay, lesbian and bisexual respondents, and found that 42 per cent of gay men 43 per cent of lesbians and 49 per cent of bisexual men and women had mental health problems as defined by the Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS). The Clinical Interview Schedule is used to assess the severity of complaints associated with a variety of health problems, including low mood or anxiety, fatigue, problems with memory and/or concentration, sleep disturbance, depressed mood, and anxiety.

The researchers believe these high levels of mental problems could be linked to discrimination due to sexuality, with 83 percent of respondents having experienced at least one of the following: damage to property, personal attacks or verbal insults in the past five years, or insults and bullying at school. Many respondents attributed these experiences to their sexuality

They also discovered high levels of deliberate self-harm; 42 percent of gay men, 43 percent of lesbians and 49 percent of bisexual men having planned or committed acts of self-harm.
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The study was funded by the Community Fund and managed in collaboration with the mental health charity, Mind.

Imperial College London

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