Objective: To examine the evidence for a national policy response to depression among gay, lesbian and other homosexually active people in Australia.
Methods: A literature review using database searches on depression among non-heterosexual people then a web-based search of national policy investigating how mental health needs in this population are addressed in Australia.
Results: The literature review found that non-heterosexual people experience depression at higher rates, but the literature on interventions was sparse.
The policy analysis found no mention of depression or the broader mental health needs of non-heterosexual people in key national mental health policy documents. These documents outline a policy approach for population groups with a higher prevalence of mental health problems, and stigma and discrimination are relevant associated factors, but only the National Suicide Strategy considers non-heterosexual people an ‘at-risk group’.
Conclusions: The results suggest that the evidence on higher rates of depression in non-heterosexual people is strong, but that this is not recognised in current national policy.
Implications: Defining non-heterosexual people as an ‘at-risk’ group is appropriate, as is prioritising access to mental health services that are socially and culturally appropriate. Addressing homophobia as an associated factor would require a strategic policy approach across a range of sectors.