Gay and bisexual men under the age of 26 are six times more likely to attempt suicide or self-harm compared to those aged over 45, a study has found.
Using data from a huge survey by Stonewall, researchers found depression, anxiety and even attempted suicide and self-harm were more likely in younger gay and bisexual men.
It also found a link between poorer mental health and ethnicity, income and education.
Our study showed that among gay and bisexual men, age and ethnicity had a significant impact on mental health Dr Ford Hickson, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Using the findings of Stonewall's Gay and Bisexual Men's Health Survey, the researchers analysed responses of 5,799 gay and bisexual men aged 16 and over living in the UK.
The new research published in the Journal of Public Health is the first to examine the mental health differences within gay and bisexual men in the UK.
Lead author Dr Ford Hickson from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said: "Mental illness is one of the biggest health challenges facing the world today and can affect people from all walks of life.
"We know minority groups are at higher risk of poor mental health than the heterosexual majority, however the mental health differences within sexual minorities is unclear.
"Our study showed that among gay and bisexual men, age and ethnicity had a significant impact on mental health, as did income and education.
"This is possibly because men are better able to cope with homophobia the older they are, or if they are relatively privileged in other areas of their lives."
This is possibly because men are better able to cope with homophobia the older they are
Although the authors concede more research is needed, they 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 marginalisation in ways unrelated to their sexuality.
April Guasp, Head of Research at Stonewall, said: "We're really pleased to see this further in-depth analysis of mental health issues faced by gay and bisexual men.
"It's known that a range of factors can increase risk of poor mental health among the population in general and the same holds true for gay and bisexual men.
"This study contributes to better understanding of the specific risks within LGBT communities and will hopefully lead to more targeted health interventions."
Useful helplines and websites:
For confidential support and advice you can also contact the Papyrus charity's helpline on 0800 0684141
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123(UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41
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