LGBTIQ+ Health Australia (LHA) today called for urgent responses across Australia on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other sexuality, gender, and bodily diverse people’s (LGBTQ+) mental health, responding to new mental health and wellbeing data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2020-2022 National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing (Study).
“New ABS data confirms LGBTQ+ people experience mental ill health at rates two times to greater than four times higher than the broader population,” LHA CEO Nicky Bath said.
“These adverse mental health outcomes relate directly to the stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse that LGBTQ+ people have experienced and continue to experience.”
“These results highlight the need to foster protective factors that promote mental health and wellbeing—such as creating a sense of belonging, establishing support networks and relationships, and ensuring all trans and gender diverse people in Australia have access to gender affirming health care,” Ms Bath said.
It is the first time this study has used the ABS Standard for Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables, 2020 (ABS 2020 Standard), providing the first official national data on LGBTIQ+ populations’ mental health.
“LHA congratulates the ABS on using the ABS 2020 Standard in this national study and calls for more in-depth and rigorous reporting on the variables. The ABS has more valuable mental health and wellbeing data for LGBTQ+ populations that is needed to develop targeted and effective responses for people in crisis and experiencing poor mental health.
“It is disturbing and not surprising to see overall mental ill health rates of 58.7% for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, compared with 19.9% for heterosexual counterparts. It confirms previous research such as Private Lives 3, Australia’s largest national survey of the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ populations.
“This new data on the mental health and wellbeing of transgender people is inconsistent with virtually all research, which shows trans and gender diverse people experiencing psychological distress and mental health conditions at higher rates than lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
“This new ABS transgender data needs rigorous analysis to avoid misinterpretation and misrepresentation, especially in the current environment of frequent transphobic rhetoric that has significant negative health and wellbeing impacts.
“The data released to date also do not include any information on people born with innate variations in sex characteristics. While LHA understands survey participant numbers were too low for statistical reporting, these data may still provide valuable insight.
“Additional mental health and wellbeing information on topics such as suicidal thoughts and behaviours, self-harm, eating disorders and use of services is still to be released for LGBTIQ+ populations.
“There is so much more we need to know to develop targeted and effective responses to support people experiencing poor mental health.
“LHA is calling on the ABS to do a separate report on all the LGBTIQ+ data, in the study. With the development of the 10 Year National LGBTIQA+ Health and Wellbeing Action Plan under way, this data can provide much needed critical insights to inform the Plan.
- Beyond Urgent: National LGBTIQ+ Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Strategy: https://www.lgbtiqhealth.org.au/beyond_urgent_national_lgbtiq_mhsp_strategy
- Snapshot of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Statistics for LGBTIQ+ People: https://www.lgbtiqhealth.org.au/statistics
Media contact: Tammy Wayne-Elliot, Managing Director, Fifty Acres, 0414 428 440