Although many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Australians live healthy and happy lives, research has demonstrated that a disproportionate number experience poorer mental health outcomes and have higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers. These health outcomes are directly related to experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse on the basis of being LGBTI. This document aims to provide a snapshot of what is known of the current mental health and wellbeing outcomes of LGBTI people in Australia.
While Australian and international research provide evidence that demonstrate significant concern regarding mental health outcomes and suicidal behaviours among LGBTI people, significant knowledge gaps remain. This is due to lack of inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in population researching and data collection in mental health services. As data informs evidence-based policy, this exclusion has lead to inaccuracy in reporting and significant underestimates, which in turn impacts on LGBTI inclusion in mental health and suicide prevention policies, strategies and programmes.
Consequently, Australian national evidence on the health and wellbeing of LGBTI populations relies upon a growing but limited number of smaller scale studies that target LGBTI populations, or part thereof. While uniquely valuable, these can have methodological issues relating to representative data collection and data analysis, and therefore may not represent a holistic picture of LGBTI people. Additionally, research that groups LGBTI people into a single group for analysis risks conflation and reaching conclusions that are not representative.
This document includes a range of language beyond that typically used by the National LGBTI Health Alliance2. This is to directly reflect the terminology and classifications used by the various research papers used as source data in this document. Across this research, there is often little uniformity of demographic information or definitions of mental health concerns that supports direct comparison between LGBTI populations and the general population. We urge the reader to consider this broader context in which adequately estimating the mental health outcomes and suicidal behaviours for LGBTI populations remains highly challenging.