Mental health and quality of life of gay men and lesbians in England and Wales

Michael King , Eamonn McKeown , James Warner , Angus Ramsay , Katherine Johnson , Clive Cort , Lucie Wright , Robert Blizard , Oliver Davidson

Abstract

Background Little is known aboutthe mental health of gay men and lesbians living in Europe.

Aims To compare psychological status, quality of life and use of mental health services by lesbians and gay men with heterosexual people.

Method Cross-sectional study in England and Wales using ‘ snowball’ sampling.

Results Participants: 656 gay men, 505 heterosexual men, 430 lesbians and 588 heterosexual women. Gay men were more likely than heterosexual men to score above threshold on the Clinical Interview Schedule, indicating greater levels of psychological distress (RR 1.24, 95% CI 1.07–1.43), as were lesbians compared with heterosexual women (RR 1.30, 95% CI 1.11–1.52). Gay men and lesbians were more likely than heterosexuals to have consulted a mental health professional in the past, deliberately harmed themselves and used recreational drugs. Lesbians were more likely to have experienced verbal and physical intimidation and to consume more alcohol than heterosexual women.

Conclusions Awareness of mental health issues for gay men and lesbians should become a standard part of training for mental health professionals, who need to be aware of the potential for substance misuse and self-harm in this group and of the discrimination experienced by many lesbians.

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