Previous research indicates that lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals have poorer mental health than their heterosexual counterparts. The concept of complete mental health, which combines the presence of positive mental health and the absence of mental disorder, has not been thoroughly examined in this population.

Data and methods

Data from the 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) were used to estimate the number and percentage of men and women aged 15 and older who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or heterosexual. Complete mental health was defined as the presence of flourishing mental health together with the absence of any self-reported mood disorder, anxiety disorder or suicide ideation in the previous 12 months. Multivariate logistic regression models stratified by sex were used to identify differences in complete mental health among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual individuals.


In 2015, an estimated 252,000 (1.9%) Canadian men identified as gay and 145,000 (1.1%) as bisexual, while 153,000 Canadian women (1.1%) identified as lesbian and 299,000 (2.2%) as bisexual. Gay men had significantly lower unadjusted odds of complete mental health, but this association was no longer significant when controlling for sociodemographic and health factors. The likelihood of complete mental health was not significantly different for lesbians than for heterosexual women. Both bisexual men and bisexual women had significantly lower odds of complete mental health in the fully adjusted models.


Awareness of poorer mental health outcomes, particularly for bisexual individuals, can help guide specific interventions aimed at improving the mental health and well-being of sexual minority populations.


cross-sectional study, health survey, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, quality of life, suicidal ideation, flourishing, positive mental health

DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.25318/82-003-x201901100001-eng


Lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, suicidality and substance abuse than their heterosexual counterparts. Social stresses experienced in sexual minority populations, such as stigma, prejudice and discrimination, in addition to internalized feelings of negativity and expectations of rejection, are thought to be part of the explanation for these differences in risk for mental disorders. [Full article]


Heather Gilmour (heather.gilmour@canada.ca) is with the Health Analysis Division at Statistics Canada, in Ottawa, Ontario.

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