LONDON — Young gay and bisexual men in the UK are at a significantly greater risk of poor mental health than their older counterparts according to research published in the Journal of Public Health, MedicalXpress reports.
Conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and funded by Stonewall, the study found gay and bi men under the age of 26 were six times more likely to attempt suicide or self-harm compared to men in that group 45 and up. They were also twice as likely to be depressed or anxious. The researchers say the results reinforce the importance of mental health interventions reaching those who need them most, as well as people who actively seek help, MedicalXpress reports.
The study is the first to examine the mental health differences within gay and bisexual men in the UK. Using data from the Stonewall Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health Survey, the researchers analyzed responses of 5,799 gay and bisexual men aged 16 and over living in the UK. Depression, anxiety, attempted suicide and self-harm were examined against a range of life factors. Age, ethnicity, income and education were all found to have a large impact on mental health.
Black gay and bisexual men were twice as likely to be depressed and five times more likely to have attempted suicide than the white majority. Men in the lower wage bracket were more likely to be depressed, anxious, attempt suicide or self-harm. Those with lower levels of education were twice as likely to experience one of those issues compared to those with degree-level education, only in part due to earning a lower wage, MedicalXpress reports.
Although more research is needed, the authors suggest older men are able to cope better with homophobia and that homophobia is more prevalent in the lives of younger men. The study also indicates that gay and bisexual men may experience discrimination or marginalization unrelated to their sexuality.
The researchers also discovered cohabitation is key for positive mental health, with men who are living with a male partner 50 percent less likely to suffer from depression compared to gay and bisexual men living alone.