Everyone has a sexual orientation and a gender identity; however, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, or asexual are at a higher risk of mental health disorders compared to others. Individual factors aside, this is because many humans identifying as LGBTQIA+ face discrimination, family rejection, harassment, the stress of the coming out process, and fear of violence, just to name a few.
It is important to be aware of the common mental health issues that LGBTQIA+ humans may experience so you can guide yourself or a loved one with unconditional positive regard within their life. This article will explore challenges within the demographics of the LGBTQIA+ community, including depression and other disorders.
Mental Health Risks in the LGBTQIA+ Community
According to National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), LGBTQIA+ are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition. Most humans experience bouts of anxiety and/or depression within their lifetime; however, it can be successfully managed through social support. Without positive support, the risk decreases in managing mental health conditions.
This information poses the question, why does the LGBTQIA+ community experience more mental health concerns? Perhaps it is linked to life experiences and feeling a lack of support. Maybe you have experienced an uncomfortable situation where you felt alone, and no one had your back. Most people want to avoid this unpleasant situation. However just think if this was every day, over and over. Now think of how this would impact your mental health.
Many humans in the LGBTQIA+ community experience barriers to mental health treatment. Some of these barriers include but are not limited to the following:
- A lack of culturally competent healthcare providers: Cultural competence is respecting and understanding values and belief systems across all cultures. Stigma, lack of cultural sensitivity, and conscious or unconscious reluctance to address sexuality may impede care.
- A lack of resources for effective healthcare: The LGBTQIA+ community experiences higher rates of homelessness and poverty, which means less likely to have resources.
- A lack of safety: Many within the LGBTQIA+ population have experienced stigma or discrimination within the healthcare setting, so this could seem unsafe.
LGBTQIA+ Student Struggles
Going to high school is an exciting time for most students. This is the time when adolescents are thinking about what clubs to join and new friends to make. Students start to think about being an adult and attending college.
According to research, LGBTQIA+ youth face higher incidents of harassment, bullying, and victimization in schools than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. For a human of the LGBTQIA+ community, going to high school is a stressful space with increased depression and anxiety.
Adolescence is a challenging space to be in general. Many changes come with age, and this can confuse them. No matter what age you are, all humans deserve compassion and empathy. When kindness is not greeted by differences, negative thought processes may occur.
Every human is different from the next. However, not every human is bullied due to their differences. Take a moment to acknowledge kindness and acceptance to all humans, not just the ones you understand. Be a part of the change that this world needs.
Challenges for Older Adults
Growing old can be a difficult time as many elderly face loneliness and isolation. For the elderly LGBTQIA+ community, this is a growing trend as they face discrimination within healthcare settings, peers, physicians, and/or family support. This causes an increase in anxiety and depression amongst the elderly population.
All too often, the elderly are dismissed, and they need more assistance due to health factors. LGBTQIA+ seniors can often feel left out or not accepted by others within their community. Therefore, isolation may occur due to a lack of positive support. The sense of worry surfaces, and often the elderly can have symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This is caused by significant thoughts of worry about the future.
According to The National Library of Medicine, physicians receive little formal training about homosexuality, and the unique healthcare needs of these patients are often ignored. Therefore, simple fixes often go untreated. As a result, mental health disorders increase.
How to Create Change
All humans deserve to be treated equally no matter what their gender identity or sexual orientation is. If you or someone you love struggle with barriers, there are several things that you can do to help ease the burden.
First, reach out to your local legislation. Second, educate yourself and those around you to explore the culture, community, and appropriate words to utilize. Third, examine any bias you may have and how your view can make a difference within your community. Always remember that you are in charge of your thoughts and actions. Be the change and reach out to those that need help.
At SoCal Mental Health, our commitment to mental health and addiction challenges is inclusive to all. The LGBTQIA+ experiences mental health challenges like everyone else and deserves our compassionate professional treatment and support. Alcohol and substance abuse treatments and our mental health programs are designed for the unique needs of each individual. If you feel overwhelmed due to depression, other mental health issues, or out of control due to alcohol or substance dependence, please know that we can help. Our staff is here to meet your needs and help with your challenges, whether for mental health or struggles with addiction. You do not have to go through this alone. Call us at (949) 502-2041 for more information.