There has been little research into the prevalence of mental health problems in lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people in the UK with most work conducted in the USA.
To relate the prevalence of mental disorder, self-harm and suicide attempts to sexual orientation in England, and to test whether psychiatric problems were associated with discrimination on grounds of sexuality.
The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007 (n = 7403) was representative of the population living in private UK households. Standardised questions provided demographic information. Neurotic symptoms, common mental disorders, probable psychosis, suicidality, alcohol and drug dependence and service utilisation were assessed. In addition, detailed information was obtained about aspects of sexual identity and perceived discrimination on these grounds.
Self-reported identification as non-heterosexual (determined by both orientation and sexual partnership, separately) was associated with unhappiness, neurotic disorders overall, depressive episodes, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, phobic disorder, probable psychosis, suicidal thoughts and acts, self-harm and alcohol and drug dependence. Mental health-related general practitioner consultations and community care service use over the previous year were also elevated. In the non-heterosexual group, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation predicted certain neurotic disorder outcomes, even after adjustment for potentially confounding demographic variables.
This study corroborates international findings that people of non-heterosexual orientation report elevated levels of mental health problems and service usage, and it lends further support to the suggestion that perceived discrimination may act as a social stressor in the genesis of mental health problems in this population.
- © 2011 Royal College of Psychiatrists