A study published in the Journal of Public Health reveals that gay and bisexual men below the age of 26 are six times more likely to commit suicide or harm themselves than older men. The researchers explain that unlike younger men, men above 45 are more capable of coping with homophobia and could possibly be more privileged in other aspects of their lives.
Moreover, young gay and bisexual men are also two times more likely to be depressed or anxious. Meanwhile, black gay and bisexual men are also twice as likely to be depressed and five times more likely to commit suicide compared to white men.
Men with lower educational backgrounds are also two times more likely to suffer from the same problems due to lower income. On the other hand, men who received higher education are less likely to experience one of these issues.
The researchers point out that some of these men may also suffer from discrimination unrelated to their sexuality, which adds to the report. Nevertheless, their study shows that mental health problems are rampant among gay and bisexual youths as well as minorities.
“Poor mental health is not evenly distributed across race, income or education,” says lead author Ford Hickson from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “We must ensure that access to life-changing support services are targeted to where they are needed most. Everyone has the right to good mental health.”
The research team suggests that cohabitation can improve these problems. They say that gay and bisexual men who live with a partner are 50 percent less likely to experience depression than those who live alone. Living in areas with high population of gay and bisexual men such as London could also result in positive mental health because these men are less isolated and less discriminated.
The study is the first one to investigate the differences in mental health among gay and bisexual men. It involved the data analysis of 5,799 gay and bisexual men, ages 16 and above, from the Stonewall Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health Survey conducted in the UK.
April Guasp, the Head of Research at Stonewall, adds that the study provides more data about the risks of poor mental health within the LGBT communities. Guasp hopes that this would lead to targeted treatments.