In honor of Pride Month, we’re going to look at how LGBTQ individuals are affected by mental health issues. Due to the discrimination and stigma individuals in this community face, they are at great risk of mental illness and mental health problems.
Mental Health In LGBTQ Community
Members of the LGBTQ community are at a greater risk for mental health issues. Individuals are nearly 3 times more likely to experience major depression or anxiety disorder. Discrimination and fear of coming out also result in depression, PTSD, suicide, and substance abuse among LGBTQ individuals.
LGBTQ individuals have to deal with the stigma and prejudice about their gender and sexual orientation. This combined with the additional stigma around mental health results in them hiding their issues. There are also limited resources for LGBTQ mental health so people cannot get help.
Suicide is particularly high among the LGBTQ community. In fact, for LGBTQ youth ages 10-24 suicide is the leading cause of death. Youth in this community are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, or engage in self-harm them their peers. For transgendered individuals, 38-65% of them experience suicidal ideation.
Familial support is a big factor in suicide. Those that face rejection after coming out to their families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than those who are accepted. After family, acceptance by friends and peers is the second most important factor in suicide.
There are higher reported rates of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use in the LGBTQ community than straight individuals. Major factors for this use are prejudice, discrimination, lack of support, and lack of understanding in the health care system.
In the general population, about 9% have substance abuse issues but that number jumps in LGBTQ people, with 20-30% of that community abusing substances.
LGBTQ youth are particularly vulnerable. They face hatred, fear, and prejudice in school, with friends, in the community, and at home which leads to higher rates of self-harm and suicide. LGBTQ teens are 6 times more likely to experience depression than the general population.
There are also additional struggles with coming out to family, friends, classmates, and teachers. It is even more stressful if they don’t feel accepted by their peers and family. Early acceptance, support, and treatment are key to helping LGBTQ youth recover.
Mental health resources and care are already sparse and difficult but they are even harder for LGBTQ individuals. Homosexuality was considered a mental illness until 1980. They were often subjected to treatment, such as forced hospitalization, aversion therapy, and electroshock therapy. These so-called “conversion” treatments were painful and ineffective.
Treatment practices have improved but there are still disparities and unequal care for LGBTQ individuals seeking help. The biggest problem is a lack of understanding in mental health professionals. Many providers make the mistake of focusing too much on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity rather than their mental health condition
It’s important to find the right mental health profession to help LGBTQ individuals. Luckily many of Florida’s top psychiatrists specialize in helping people of this community. Find one today to begin receiving help.