Hey there Guys,
Today in Australia the Victorian government has release the second national survey of the health and well being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Australians – Private Lives 2.
It is a study of more than 4000 GLBT people, and the findings are startling to say the least, with significantly higher percentages of GLBT people suffering with anxiety. Over 80 percent of respondents reported at least one panic episode in the past 12 months with more than 25% saying they had been diagnosed or were being treated for an anxiety disorder.
The 2007 National Survey Of Mental Health and Well Being found the prevalence of anxiety in the general public is 14.4%, significantly lower than in the gay community. The statistics for depression are more concerning with 24.5% reporting living with depression compared to 5.3% of men in the general population. I find these statistics deeply disturbing, and makes me wonder what factors are at play for a community to be suffering with such distress. Private Lives 2 offers some ideas as to why this may be the cause.
When it comes to feelings of discrimination, homophobia and violence more than one quarter of respondents reported being victim to verbal abuse, 15% experienced discrimination, and one in eleven had been physically assaulted. Forty-four percent of respondents reported having hidden their sexuality in public for fear of homophobic violence. How can such a large sector of the community live in fear and not suffer with some sort of mental distress?
Even the act of seeking medical help appears to hold fear for some members of the GLBT community. Three quarters of those surveyed have a regular doctor however only one half of those surveyed had informed their doctor they were gay or lesbian. As I am sure you are aware gay men have different health needs to straight men. If someone does not feel safe enough to disclose their sexuality there is a significant risk of missing many health issues unique to gay and lesbian people.
So where to do we move to from here?
For all gay and lesbian people I urge you to read this report. You can download the full PDF of Private Lives 2 here.
If you are one of the 25% of GLBT people without a family doctor please start the search for a practitioner you feel comfortable with. I have created a guide to help you find your perfect doctor.
If you have a doctor you like be sure to let them know you are gay. If they are not fully clued into the health issues for GLBT people I strongly suggest printing out this report to help bring them up to speed:
Health Screening For Gay Men
On a final note, if you have been a victim of discrimination or homophobic violence, no matter how minor, I urge you to report it. Governments need statistics to change; if you don’t report it, it never happened.
Finally I want to make one plea. The main reason this site was created was to place gay male health strongly on the agenda. Knowledge is strength. I urge you to please let your friends know about this blog. You just never know how the information here could make a difference. Already I have had a heart felt letter from one reader whose life was changed after seeing his doctor, prompted by my post on suicide.
Sharing this post could “pay it forward” to someone you care for. One good way is to hit the “like” button below. One click guys, please take that extra moment to share.
Yours in great health.