Mental Health and LGBTQ
First of all, in regards to LGBTQ, there is something I would like to say:
Love is love and love is a beautiful thing. Why should it matter whether a person is a member of the LGBTQ community or whether they are heterosexual? If they have found someone they love, who loves them back and makes them happy, who are we to stand in their way and say it is wrong? Why can we not be happy for one another, support each other and let people live their lives in the way that they desire?
Be who you are, be proud of who you are, and never change who you are for the sake of anyone but yourself.
Mental Health and LGBTQ:
Those who are part of the LGBTQ community are at a much higher risk of developing a mental health problem. In fact, they are almost 3 times more likely than their heterosexual counterparts, to experience some form of mental health condition and 4 times more likely to commit suicide. The reasons behind developing mental health conditions are still unclear today, however, we are aware of the various factors which play their role. For LGBTQ people some of the main contributing factors are:
- Homophobia, biphobia or transphobia
- Negative reactions from family, friends, coworkers, employees, strangers and the religious community
There is still a large amount of stigma surrounding people who identify as LGBTQ as well as a large stigma around mental health. Therefore individuals who are part of the LGBTQ community, who suffer from a mental health condition, often experience double the stigma. Many people fear coming out to their loved ones as they are scared of being discriminated against for their sexual orientation and their gender identities. Those whose families and friends respond in a negative way are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide in comparison to those whose families respond in a positive way.
It is important that people feel comfortable to talk with their families and friends about their sexuality and gender orientation, rather than being too scared to be who they are. Even having one person who supports them can make a huge difference to their mental state. More than half of individuals who identify as transgender experience depression and/or anxiety. People need to realise just how difficult it is for a transgender person to be trapped in the wrong body or to go through gender reassignment surgeries, it is not a 'trend' it is a medical condition and they cannot help being the way that they are. They need to be supported through their transitions, they need someone to understand them and be there for them. They do not need to be judged, they are going through enough.
For LGBTQ people between the age of 10 and 24, the leading cause of death is suicide.
LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely, and Questioning youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide, have suicidal thoughts, or engage in self-harming behaviours.
25% of people within the LGBTQ community abuse alcohol, compared to 9% of the general population.
20-30% of LGBTQ people turn to substance abuse.
These statistics are shocking. It proves how lacking our services are in regards to LGBTQ people as well as for Mental Health. We need to do more to support people and be there for people, encouraging them to be who they are by breaking down the mass amount of stigma around LGBTQ individuals.
We need better services to support LGBTQ people. To show them that people care and that people accept them for who they are.
We need more mental health services directed towards LGBTQ individuals as well as general services for all people.
Together we can make a difference.
Leon, A (2017) LGBTQ People are Prone to Mental Illness. It Is a Truth That We Shouldn't Shy Away From. [Online] The Guardian. Available here!