Although most Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans 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 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, it is vital to note that significant knowledge gaps still remain. This is due to lack of inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in population research and data collection in mental health services. As data informs evidence-based policy, this exclusion has lead to inaccuracy in reporting and significant underestimates that has left LGBTI people relatively invisible 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 limited ability to provide a comprehensive data analysis that is therefore unable to represent a holistic picture of LGBTI people.
‘LGBTI’ is often viewed as a single category about which can be spoken about in broad generalisations, however it is vital to understand that within ‘LGBTI’ there are several distinct, but sometimes overlapping, demographics each with their own distinct histories, experiences and health needs. Research that collapsed these separate groups into a single group for their analysis risks conflating and reaching conclusions that may not be representative of all groups. Where possible, we have noted when this may have occurred, and these statistics should be used with caution when representing the experience of groups that underrepresented (mainly transgender and intersex people)
This document includes a range language of beyond that typically used by the National LGBTI Health Alliance. This is to directly reflect the terminology and classifications used by the various research papers used as source data in this document, such as the classification of age ranges, terminology used to describe gender, and descriptors and definitions of mental health concerns. 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.
When considering data provided in this document it is important to note that this is not a comprehensive literature review, and we urge the reader to consider this broader context where adequately estimating the mental health outcomes and suicidal behaviours for LGBTI populations remains highly challenging.