3rd April 2012: Today, the second national survey of the health and wellbeing of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Australians - Private Lives 2 (PL2) – was launched by the Victorian Minister for Mental Health, the Hon. Mary Wooldridge. We’re sharing the news with you as this initiative would not have been possible without the fundraising efforts of the Mo Community - the project was supported by beyondblue with funds from Movember and with additional funds provided by the Victorian Department of Health and a La Trobe University faculty grant. Read on to learn more about the findings.
The study, of over 4,000 GLBT people found:
Nearly 80% had experienced at least one episode of intense anxiety in the past 12 months
A quarter of respondents had been diagnosed with, or treated for, an anxiety disorder in the same period.
While the study showed that just over three quarters of the total sample reported had a regular GP, only around 69% reported that their GP knew of their sexuality.
A significant percentage of respondents reported ‘occasionally’ or ‘usually’ hiding their sexuality or gender identity in a range of situations for fear of heterosexist violence or discrimination: 44% in public and 33.6% when accessing services.
Young people aged 16 to 24 years were more likely than any other age group to hide their sexuality or gender identity.
The survey builds on the findings of the first Private Lives report (PL1) published in 2006 and explored the impact of systemic discrimination on GLBT Australians’ quality of life and their use of health services. PL2 was largely conducted online with close to 4,000 participants ranging between 16 and 89 years in age according to La Trobe ARCSHS Research Fellow, Liam Leonard. “While the research documents show an increased acceptance of GLBT people and marginal improvements in their general health, it also shows GLBT people continue to experience much higher levels of abuse and discrimination. A likely outcome of this is the poorer mental health participants had compared with the population at large," says Mr. Leonard. "The most common health conditions among participants were depression and anxiety/nervous disorders."
Chairman of beyondblue: the national depression and anxiety initiative, The Hon. Jeff Kennett says these findings are in line with other research beyondblue has funded. "This research strengthens our resolve to continue our work with this community to reduce discrimination and improve help-seeking. Mid-year, with the support of our GLBTI Reference Group, we will be launching an awareness campaign to address some of the disturbing statistics highlighted in this report," he says.
In the six years since PL1 was launched, there have been amendments to Commonwealth legislation recognising the rights and responsibilities of same sex couples. "Almost 86% of respondents said they were aware of recent legislative changes recognising same sex couples as partnered for Centrelink and other purposes, indicating the success of government publicity campaigns. Just over 10% of participants said they had been affected by these changes," says Mr. Leonard. "Relationship recognition was important for many of the survey participants. Nearly 18% of participants who were currently in a relationship reported that they had formalised their commitment (through marriage or some other ceremony), and 34.4% said that they had yet to formalise their relationship but either planned or would like to."