While 8.5 per cent of the heterosexual population are at risk of depression, according to a 2022 study by the General University Hospital in Prague, INPSY’s initial findings show that 40 per cent of the LGBTQ+ community is at high to extreme risk of depression, and for several groups the figure exceeds 50 per cent. Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ people make up 10 per cent of the population, which is more than one million people in Czechia.
“There are very few researchers working on this topic in the Czech Republic, which is why we started to focus on Queer health at INPSY. We have almost no data on the mental and physical health of sexual or gender minorities, and although this part of the population is in many ways the same as the majority, it is also specific and encounters obstacles and methods in healthcare that are not appropriate and make the situation more difficult for them,” said Andrea Stašek, the lead author of the research.
The INPSY team launched the study last summer in the form of a questionnaire survey. A total of 3,298 people took part in the study, which was open to any adult with a non-heterosexual or transgender identity, making it quite unique. But the results are alarming. Around half of trans and non-binary people are at high to extreme risk of depression, and pansexual and asexual people are similarly at risk. A slightly less vulnerable group are gay and lesbian people, with 30 per cent at risk. The highest risk groups are trans men and women, non-binary people who do not identify as either male or female, and asexual people.
“The questionnaires revealed a risk of depression, not depressive disorder directly. It focused on a set of symptoms that are associated with risk. While the estimate in Germany is around 30 to 40 per cent, our figures are higher. Half of the 500 non-binary people surveyed are at risk,” said Andrea Stašek.
“I am very grateful for this research because it is only through scientific studies that we can do our work. Our individual experiences don’t give us a full picture of what is happening in the population,” said psychologist Martin Štýber, adding that he appreciates the initial results and noting that the research reveals a trend in the population and a risk factor that psychologists, psychiatrists and sexologists need to be aware of. “Thanks to this, experts will be able to detect some symptoms earlier,” he explained.
Robin Blažke, who identifies as transmasculine, is currently undergoing hormone therapy for trans men. “My problems didn't happen overnight. I was aware of being transgender since childhood and struggled with my girl name. As a teenager my problems only escalated, I felt singled out,” said Blažke.
“The lack of acceptance, discrimination, legal inequality - all of this has a negative impact on the mental health of the LGBTQ+ population,” says psychologist Martin Štýber. Long-term research on queer health should help to change this situation.
“The short-term goals of our team are to publish a report and articles, and in the long term we want to bring the issue of identity into representative research and contribute to the debate on healthcare reform. As researchers, we will provide information and contribute to better practice and changes in care,” said research author Andrea Stašek. “Thanks to us, experts now know that these groups are at greater risk,” she concluded.
Low socioeconomic status, younger age, living in a municipality with less than 100,000 inhabitants and having a less well-known identity were also found to be among the factors that increased the risk of depression. Conversely, people who lived with a partner, had a higher socioeconomic status, were over 25 and lived in a larger city were the least at risk. The results of the research report are also available online here.