June is Pride Month, where we celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) community. This community faces mental health issues like the rest of the population. However, LGBTQ mental health issues are often more severe, due to inherent prejudices and societal biases. Here are some startling facts about mental health and the LGBTQ community you might not have known.
LGBTQ individuals are nearly 3 times more likely than others to experience mental health issues. They are at greater risk for conditions such as depression, anxiety, and self-harm. Fear of coming out to their loved ones or facing discrimination and violence can lead to them developing depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, or substance abuse issues.
Individuals that identity as LGBTQ already face prejudice and stigma due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. This is why many are reluctant to come forward and seek treatment for their mental health conditions, and possibly endure additional stigmatization.
For LGBTQ youth aged 10-24, suicide is the leading cause of death. They are four times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, or engage in self-harm. This increased suicide rate is due to lack of support and increased harassment.
Unfortunately, because many LGBTQ individuals are unable or unwilling to seek help, they turn to self-medication. In fact, an estimated 20% of LGBTQ people have substance abuse problems. Comparably, only 9% of the general population has substance abuse issues. Members of this community report higher rates of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use than heterosexual people.
There is a sad history of how LGBTQ individuals were treated with regards to mental health. In fact, until the 1960s it was considered a mental illness to identify as homosexual. Many faced treatment against their will, such as involuntary hospitalization, conversion therapy, and electroshock therapy. There have been great strides in recent years, but many LGBTQ individuals receive unequal treatment.
This Pride month, it’s important that people become more educated about the issues that LGBTQ individuals face every day, and to help stop the stigma. People with mental health issues also face negative stigmas. Only through working together can we create a better world for everyone. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identify feel free to contact us.