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#mindthefacts – new research confirms LGBTIQ young people at higher risk

ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said the study of nearly 2000 young Australians showed young people identifying as LGBTIQ were an “incredibly vulnerable group” and reiterated why mental health groups were so concerned about the significant spikes in people seeking help during the postal survey period.

Mr Nicholas said the findings also demonstrated the importance of mental health groups presenting the public with plain facts via their #mindthefacts campaign in a bid to help “change minds, change votes and change lives” and secure an overall ‘Yes’ vote.

“There’s been a lot of distractions and political games this campaign, but there’s one fact Australians can’t ignore - a Vote ‘Yes’ for marriage equality will help reduce the negative impacts discrimination is currently having on the mental health of young LGBTIQ people and hopefully save lives,” he said.

“Some of these statistics are confronting, but so are the mental health impacts of trauma and discrimination, including this ongoing debate, on LGBTIQ young people, their family and friends.

“If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with the whole topic, then we simply ask people to #mindthefacts and ask themselves how they would feel if they were blocked from marrying the person they love.

“Chances are you’d feel discriminated against too, which is why we’re asking people to Vote ‘Yes’.” 

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Last week, the Black Dog Institute, headspace, ReachOut, Brain and Mind Centre at University of Sydney and Orygen, the National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health launched #mindthefacts to ask Australians to consider the real and devastating link between discrimination and negative mental health impacts for young LGBTIQ people when voting in the marriage equality postal survey.

DATA HIGHLIGHTS (full extract included below):
In a longitudinal study of nearly 2000 young Australians aged 16-25 who used ReachOut:

  • Nearly half of all LGBTIQ young people surveyed (42.7 per cent) were at high risk of suicide, compared to 23.1 per cent for those who identified as heterosexual.
  • The top three reasons young LGBTIQ people visit ReachOut is for help with depression, anxiety and suicide, while suicide did not factor in the top three for heterosexual young people.
  • Young LGBTIQ people were more likely to come to ReachOut for help with sexuality issues and being at risk of harm, including self-harm, abuse and violence.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Media organisations looking to direct young people impacted by the debate around the same sex marriage postal survey are encouraged to include the below contacts for youth-specific mental health support.

Need help now:
Support services:
Explore:

SPOKESPEOPLE and MEDIA CONTACT:

ReachOut:
* Jono Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer
 
Media contact:
Liza Davis
Director of Strategic Communications and Government Relations
0418 164 231
liza@reachout.com

Extract ReachOut Cohort Study:

Suicide Ideation Questionnaire (SIQ) analysis across sexuality

Introduction

From 2014–2016 ReachOut conducted a longitudinal study of users of its flagship service

(ReachOut.com), recruiting and following a cohort of young people aged 16–25 years.

The aim of the study was to observe how young people experiencing mental health difficulties engage with the service, and what the impacts of their engagement are. Participants in the study completed standardised and bespoke measures deployed via four online surveys over a three-month period.

This document compares participants that identified as heterosexual and LGBTIQ on a number of questions across suicidal ideation risk levels (no/low risk, recent thoughts of suicide, high risk) as indicated by one of the standardised measures used in the study — the Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire (SIQ).

This data extract includes:
  • Number of participants who identified as heterosexual and LGBTIQ
  • Proportion of participants that indicated that they had experienced a serious or stressful problem in the last three months
  • Main reasons for coming to ReachOut
  • Formal help-seeking experiences

Number of participants who identified as heterosexual and LGBTIQ


Out of the 1950 participants who disclosed their sexuality, 1268 participants identified as heterosexual (65%), whilst 682 identified as LGBTIQ (35%). Results from the SIQ indicated that participants who identified as LGBTIQ were nearly twice as likely (42.7% compared with 23.1%) to be at high risk of suicide than those who identified as heterosexual.

figures

SIQ categories by sexuality

No/low risk

Recent thoughts

High risk

Heterosexual

61.3%

15.6%

23.1%

LGBTIQ

39.3%

18%

42.7%

Experiencing serious or stressful problems in the last three months

Overall, participants who identified as LGBTIQ were more likely to have experienced a serious or stressful problem in the last 3 months where they felt like they needed help than heterosexual participants (72% compared with 58.5%). In terms of experiencing problems and not seeking help despite feeling like they needed it, participants who identified as heterosexual tended to have higher proportions across all risk levels over those who identified as LGBTIQ, except when at no/low risk of suicide (27.4% compared with 30.6%).  Participants who identified as LGBTIQ across all risk levels were more likely than participants who identified as heterosexual to seek help when they had faced a serious or stressful problem in the last three months.

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Main reasons for coming to ReachOut

Depression and anxiety were the top two reasons why participants across both groups said they had visited ReachOut. General mental health issues, abuse and violence, helping others, and suicide were also shared reasons between the two. Additionally, participants who identified as LGBTIQ were more likely to come to ReachOut for sexuality issues and when they were experiencing or at risk of harm (suicide, self-harm, abuse, and violence).

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Seek professional help

Respondents were asked questions about seeking professional help. These included whether they had gone to hospital for a mental health issue (yes/no) and whether they had seen a mental health professional (yes/no). Participants who had seen a mental health professional were also asked to rate the helpfulness of that support (response options: extremely unhelpful/unhelpful/neither helpful nor unhelpful/helpful/extremely helpful).

Results showed that:
  • Participants who identified as LGBTIQ were more likely to go to a hospital for mental health reasons than participants who identified as heterosexual.
  • More than 80% of the participants who identified as LGBTIQ across all risk levels had seen a mental health professional. However, the number of participants who identified as heterosexual that had seen a mental health professional increased from 65% when at no/low risk to 85% when at high risk.
  • Similar proportions for both groups found visits to a mental health professional helpful when either at no/low risk or at high risk, however, participants who identified as LGBTIQ were more likely to find a mental health professional helpful than participants who identified as heterosexual when facing recent thoughts of suicide.

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