In honor of Pride Month, we’re taking a look at the members of the LGBTQ community. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer identifying people are a diverse group. Their life stories are as individual as anyone else yet they face higher risks for mental health issues such as anxiety disorder, eating disorders, and depression due to discrimination in society. Here is how the LGBTQ community is affected by mental health.
There is no group out there that is exempt from mental health issues. However, certain factors impact mental health issues and increase the risk of them. Socio-economic factors are huge influencers and they are particularly important to marginalized populations like the LGBTQ community. There are three main determinates of positive mental health: social inclusion, freedom from discrimination and violence, and access to resources. All three of these items impact the LGBTQ community.
Trans and bisexual people are over-represented in the lower income bracket. In fact, many trans individuals are living on less than $15,000 a year. These low incomes limit their ability to access mental health resources. For trans people, it is particularly troubling as it means they can’t afford hormones and other medication.
LGBTQ people experience discrimination and stigma and they are also at greater risk for sexual and physical assault, harassment, and hate crimes. This discrimination impacts mental health in the community. In addition, coming out stories, gender transition, internalized oppression, isolate, alienation, loss of support, and other factors all play into mental health.
LGBTQ people may experience many forms marginalization at the same time. Their gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, and economic status all impact how they are treated at the same time. These different aspects of identity are intersecting with one another.
Intersectionality can impact mental health in this community. Other forms of marginalization, for example, racism, sexism, or poverty, in addition to homophobia or transphobia can negatively impact mental health. They are dealing with multiple forms of oppression all at once.
The DSM is the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and is used to classify mental heath disorders. Many people might be shocked to know that homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder until 1980. People in this community were told they had something wrong with their mind for just being attracted to a member of the same sex. For trans individuals, this is still going on. In 1980 Gender Identity Disorder, or trans identity, has been listed as a recognized mental disorder. The most recent edition of the DSM has changed this to introduce the term Gender Dysphoria but the message is still clear, being trans is a mental disorder.
With all of the discrimination, fear, and hate that members of the LGBTQ community are faced with daily it shouldn’t be surprising that they have higher rates of mental illness. LGBTQ individuals have higher rates of depression, anxiety, OCD, self-harm, suicide, and substance abuse. They are also at twice the risk for PTSD than heterosexual people.
LGBTQ youth are at an even higher risk than older individuals. They face 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse problems than their heterosexual peers. LGBTQ youth have the regular stress of adolescence with the additional pressure of being different. Many of them face heavy bullying during schooling.
It’s important for all members of society to work towards promoting positive mental health in the LGBTQ community. Pride month is one example of people of all lifestyles coming together to celebrate members of this community. It promotes inclusion and support.
Some key factors for long lasting positive mental health for LGBTQ members are support from family and friends (particularly for youth), supportive workplace environments, positive coming out experiences, and mental health resources. LGBTQ individuals need to feel loved both by society and themselves for good mental health.
Contact us today to discuss any mental health problems you or someone you love is experiencing. All members of the LGBTQ community are welcome here.