The LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community is at high risk of having mental health just like anyone else. In fact, they are at a higher risk than straight people due to the discrimination they face in their daily lives.
Just as we can’t ignore physical health issues, we should also never ignore mental health. Mental health is an essential aspect of someone’s life because it informs everything we do, such as how we feel, reacts, and copes.
Generally, mental health determines how we go about our daily life.
The LGBTQ+ community is more likely to have mental challenges such as anxiety and depression. The worst thing is that the stigma surrounding mental health keeps people from seeking professional help.
Why Does the LGBTQ+ Community Have More Mental Problems?
Members of the LGBTQ+ community face violence, stigma, and discrimination. This results in fear and stress whenever they think of going out or when people judging them.
One needs to be loved and understood for them to be in a healthy state of mind. Unfortunately, this is not the case when it comes to the members of the LGBTQ+ community.
They Have Negative Feelings About Their Sexuality
Due to their sexual orientation and gender identity, the LGBTQ+ community tends to have negative feelings about themselves.
LGBTQ+ community lacks a sense of belonging: this leads to mental challenges because their minds are not at ease. It can also lead to depression or anxiety.
They Feel Isolated
Some members of the LGBTQ+ community are shunned by the community and family, making them feel lonely and isolated.
Like straight people, the LGBTQ+ community needs support from close friends and family to prevent them from drowning in their thoughts. They need to feel the love of other people. It’s hard enough not to know their sexuality, and they need someone to tell them it’s ok.
They are Afraid to Come Out as They Are
Many members of the LGBTQ+ community are afraid to come out. They feel they have to hide their sexual orientation because of the criticism they encounter. This challenge to be accepted as they are leads to depression and low self-esteem.
What are the Most Common Mental Challenges Affecting the LGBTQ+ Community?
Many mental challenges can affect an individual. And in the LGBTQ+ case, it’s not any different.
The common mental challenges in this community are:
This is when someone uses illegal or more than prescribed drugs. Bisexual women and lesbians use too much nicotine and alcohol throughout their lives.
Gay men often smoke and use stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
Signs of drug abuse include:
- Using drugs daily
- Frequent hangovers
- Planning substance abuse
- Isolating so that you can get high
Feeling lonely, being depressed, sense of no belonging anxiety can all lead to suicidal thoughts. More than half the number of teen lesbian and bisexual women and about 3 in 10 teen gay and bisexual men have attempted suicide.
Depression is a mood disorder that affects your daily life. It may include persistent sadness, anger, and guilt that doesn’t go away on its own.
Lesbians are 2-time higher likely to be depressed than straight women. Gay men are at 3-time likely to get depression than straight men.
Someone with depression may:
- Have suicidal thoughts
- Lack sleep or sleep a lot.
- Feel restless
- Be hopeless
Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD)
PTSD occurs after a traumatic occurrence of a threat or death.
Someone suffering from this may:
- Experience upsetting memories and nightmares
- Feel detached from others
- Have low concentration
- Be startled easily
A person with anxiety has a fear that interferes with daily life.
Symptoms of anxiety are:
- Trouble when in sleeping
- Tight or tense muscles
- Low concentration
- Feeling restless and tiring easily.
How Does Mental Health Affect the LGBTQ+ Community?
Recent studies show that 61% of members of the LGBTQ+ community have depression,45% have PTSD, while 36% have anxiety. Besides,40% of transgender people have tried suicide; this is around nine times the overall in the U.S.
There is no answer yet for the significant difference, but trauma and discrimination contribute. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community face challenges when seeking professional mental health.
Some postpone their appointments for a mental check-up, while others don’t get any help due to healthcare personnel’s discrimination.
In the U.S, the rates are higher among transgender people, with more than 23% not seeking help due to the disrespect they encounter.
Can Someone’s Identity Affect their Mental Health?
Of course! Everyone needs to be loved without being judged. When that happens, we live a stress-free life and can concentrate on more important things in life.
The latest research on identity reveals that when one accepts their identity, they feel whole. It allows us to be more confident about who we are.
How Can We Be More Respectful to the LGBTQ+ Community?
You can be curious without asking too many questions. Ask light questions that do not undermine their identity. Study the person and know which language terms to use. If you make a mistake or you think you might have hurt them, apologize. Ask them about the preferred pronoun and never ask a trans-gender their birth name or how they became one.
How to Help a Struggling Member of the LGBTQ+ Community
Support them in a way you would support someone else. Listen to them without judging. Ask how you can be of assistance.
Remember to show respect and acceptance throughout your encounter. Be considerate about their language, partners, and identity. Learn how to be good to them and don’t ask difficult questions.
LGBTQ+ and Mental Health
As we have learned from this article, the LGBTQ+ community needs affection more than straight people. Showing them some love and care helps them to be in the right state of mind. Their mental health matters too, so be kind to them to lower the chances of mental problems.