Transgender people are more likely to suffer from a long-term mental health condition, a new study has revealed.
The study looked at 1.5 million English people over 16, with 8,000 of them identifying as trans, non-binary or gender diverse.
The research shows that one in six transgender men and women suffer from a long-term mental health condition compared with one in ten cisgender men and women.
The risk of reporting a mental health condition was even higher for some gender minority groups, reaching almost one in two for non-binary individuals.
The study, published in The Lancet Public Health, also shows that the transgender community is less likely to have adequate support for their mental health needs.
The term cisgender refers to anyone whose gender identity matches with the sex they were assigned at birth, while transgender means a person whose gender identity does not correspond with their birth-assigned sex.
Dr. Luke Munford, a Senior Lecturer in Health Economics from the University of Manchester, said: “Trans, non-binary and gender diverse people across England face widespread discrimination, leading to stressful social interactions and feelings of unacceptance, increasing the risk of poor mental health.
“Additionally, gender dysphoria – a sense of unease due to a mismatch between a person’s biological sex and their gender identity – may increase the risk of poor mental health amongst some trans, non-binary, and gender diverse people, especially when combined with very long waiting times for NHS gender identity clinics.”
To get their results the team used data from the 2021 and 2022 GP Patient Survey.
Out of 1,520,457 people who responded to the survey, 7,994 were transgender, non-binary or gender diverse, 1,499,852 were cisgender and 12,611 preferred not to say.
The survey did not ask for details of the mental health condition, but the researchers note that previous research shows anxiety and depression, as well as eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidality, are more common amongst transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse groups.
Alongside investigating the frequency of mental health conditions, the researchers also looked at how well people’s mental health needs were met at recent general practice appointments.
One in six cisgender people recorded having their mental health needs unmet at their last appointment, while other gender identities ranged between one in four and one in five.
The researchers hope that their findings will encourage the NHS to become more gender-inclusive, improving their training to cater to the needs of trans patients.
Lead author Dr. Ruth Watkinson said: “Poor communication from health-care professionals and inadequate staff-patient relationships may explain why trans, non-binary, and gender diverse patients were more likely to report their mental health needs were not met at recent general practice appointments.
“Changes are urgently needed for the NHS to become a more supportive service to transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse patients, including improved recording of gender across health-care records systems and staff training to ensure health-care professionals meet the mental health needs of all patients, whatever their gender.”
The team also note the importance of support outside of the NHS in community groups where the LGBT+ community can feel less alone.
Jack Tielemans from The Proud Trust and a co-author of the paper added: “Empowering young LGBT+ people to be proud of who they are through youth groups, mentoring programs and societal support, alongside inclusive healthcare, are important in tackling the higher risk of mental health conditions amongst trans, non-binary, and gender diverse young people.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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