Sexual orientation plays no part in mental health risk: study

February 11, 2017  23:58

Homosexual and bisexual people are no more likely to be at risk of poor mental health compared to their straight counterparts, the results of an Australian study have shown.

Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) studied around 5,000 Australian adults over eight years to determine their long-term risk of developing mental health issues, but Dr. Richard Burns from the ANU's Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing said other factors were more likely to result in mental health problems ahead of sexual orientation.

"Childhood sexual trauma, risky health behaviors, smoking, a lack of positive support and negative social interactions pose more of a risk for people's mental health than their sexual orientation," Medical Xpress reported Burns as saying on Friday.

However, he admitted that those of a homosexual and bisexual orientation were more likely to experience these mental health risk factors compared to heterosexual people.

"Initially, we found there was a long-term risk for depression and anxiety among individuals with a bisexual orientation, and there was long-term risk for anxiety among homosexual individuals. But when we adjusted for these other mental health risk factors, we found no major risk associated with sexual orientation itself," Burns said.

"We concluded that all things being equal that there is no particular mental health risk for people with a homosexual or bisexual orientation."

The study comes at a time when the federal government is currently preparing to hold a non-binding national referendum on whether same-sex marriage should be legalized in Australia.

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