The LGBTQ Community and Mental Health: Fighting A Double Stigma
It’s no secret that LGBTQ people experience a wide range of economic, social, and medical disparities that threaten their long-term health. Due to these issues, the LGBTQ population has far higher rates of anxiety, substance use, depression, and suicide than their cisgender and heterosexual counterparts. According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), some statistics highlighting these rates include:
- LGBTQ people are at a higher risk than the general population for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
- High school students who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers.
- 48% of all transgender adults report that they have considered suicide in the past 12 months, compared to 4% of the overall US population.
- LGBTQ adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition.
Moreover, LGBTQ people with mental health conditions may also find themselves fighting a double stigma: discrimination based on their sexual and/or gender identity as well as the stigma associated with mental illness. Unfortunately, according to clinical psychologist, John Pachankis at Yale University’s School of Public Health, clinically-based mental health interventions for LGBTQ people remain largely underdeveloped. He states, “There has been this tragic lack in science, where we’ve taken much longer than we should have to create and deliver interventions that can reduce these mental health disparities.”
Combating The Double Stigma
Early intervention, comprehensive treatment, and support are key to helping LGBTQ people deal with the stigma surrounding their identity and mental health issues. Here are some ways you can help:
Intervention and treatment
Contacting organizations such as The Trevor Project, GLADD, or The LGBTQ National Help Center can be a great start in finding the right mental health and educational resources for loved ones struggling with these issues. Listening, comforting, and getting early intervention can make a huge difference and potentially save a life.
Offering support and safety
Many LGBTQ people experience rejection, bullying, and harassment, or feel unsafe in their communities, all of which can add risk factors for anxiety, PTSD, and mood disorders. Search for and support local LGBTQ safe havens as they are crucial places for people of all ages to connect and find acceptance. Offering a non-judgemental shoulder to lean on for someone in crisis can also help lessen the fear they may feel when opening up about issues they are facing.
Work for equality in your community
Breaking down the barriers and stigma LGBTQ people face takes action. Laws and legislation, especially in healthcare, must reflect the actual experiences of LGBTQ people. Moving from awareness to advocacy and working to help pass laws and policies that support equality in your community are powerful tools in driving positive change.
Mental Health Disorders and Treatment
Breaking the silence about the issues surrounding the LGBTQ community and mental health is key in changing the national discussion and empowering those you love to seek help and support when needed. Often, people who suffer from mental health issues also live with addiction or a substance use disorder. Fortunately, both conditions are treatable. If you or a loved one is struggling with a co-occurring disorder, get help now – contact us at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT. Through treatment, recovery is possible.