In UK, Non-Heterosexual People Experience More Mental Health Problems

A study of more than 7,000 adults living in the United Kingdom found that those who identify as gay, lesbian and bisexual are more likely to experience a variety of mental health problems than are their heterosexual peers. The study didn’t measure how many of these individuals sought counseling or therapy for their needs, but non-heterosexual participants self-reported higher rates of depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, alcohol and drug dependence, phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In addition, non-heterosexual participants had experienced higher rates of discrimination throughout their lives.

This study confirms earlier research done in the UK, Holland and the United States that found LGBT people in greater need of counseling because of their social and familial experiences. The discrimination component also links this study with previous research of other minority groups. Last year, researchers at Drexel University College of Medicine found higher rates of depression among people who had faced discrimination due to their membership in an ethnic minority group. Finally, the trends in depression and suicidal ideation documented in non-heterosexual people mirrors all too many news stories that have arisen in the past year.

Increased suicide rates among LGBT individuals, especially teens, is not a new phenomenon, but has now gained considerable mainstream attention. As such, reducing teen suicide and adolescent bullying have been two key areas of focus for schools, community health organizations, and numerous parent groups. Federal grants have been given to programs aiming at increasing awareness of bullying and providing counseling and therapy to those who have been victimized—psychologically, emotionally, or physically—by their peers. This most recent survey of UK adults documents the long-term impacts that can result from harassment. However, the harmful consequences of harassment can be largely mitigated by social support, familial support, and counseling. The more that the consequences of discrimination and harassment are documented through peer-reviewed studies, the more funding and support will be available to meet these needs.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Hannah


    February 4th, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    Really no surprise. They have to face more adversity than most of us do when it comes to being in a relationship and trying to get others in their lives to be accepting of that.

  • Lewis


    February 4th, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    It’s due to nothing but the prejudice against the LGBT community and the usual desertion from family and friends and discrimination by the society at large that these kind of things happen. When will we start to value a person by his character and not by these kind of artificial parameters?!

  • Ron


    February 5th, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    We would be very short sighted indeed if we thought that these kinds of depressions were only taking place in the United KIngdom. It is a safe bet that people in non heterosexual relationships all over the world feel the same kind of tsk tsk when they are with their partners and that they probably all experience the same kinds of let down from friends and family who go on to make them feel like they are doing something wrong in their lives by being with someone that they love. What is wrong with being in a loving and caring relationship even if it is not heterosexual? Just be happy for them that they have found someone to spend their lives with.

  • Randall


    February 6th, 2011 at 6:36 AM

    It is never easy to go against what is the expected norm in society. But if you love someone enough then it is worth the fight. There are resources out there for the gay community to take advantage of and there are places where gays and lesbians are accepted for who they are. Maybe it might not be your home town or at the traditional family dinner table but there are wyas to make it work without making yourself so sad and crazy all of the time.

  • Shona


    February 9th, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    When people are mentally ill because of bigotry, then society has failed. It shouldn’t be that way! If someone is non-heterosexual, then accept it, tolerate it or ignore it. Those are the only options.

  • Temperance


    February 11th, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    There are still attitudes towards LGBT issues in some places that are just as unacceptable as they were years ago. Small towns in particular are much less tolerant than large, thriving cities. I guess they have nothing else to do with their days than pick on folks that have done them no harm and whose lifestyle doesn’t affect them. Anybody see Milk? That’s a fantastic movie. Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk to perfection. It illustrates what the LGBT community was up against even just a few decades ago. Prejudice remains sadly alive and kicking.

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