Is LGBTQ+ Community at a higher risk of mental health problems?

Depression is one of the most common mental ailments in the world. Depression impacts LGBT people at higher rates than the heterosexual people, and LGBT youths are more prospective than heterosexual lot to report feelings of depression and high levels of drug use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, suicide is the third foremost reason for death among people aged 10 – 24 in the United States. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths in grades 7 to 12 are twice as expected to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.

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For the Indian LGBT(QIA+) community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersexed, Asexual and other), in addition to the social and familial prejudices, the legal framework is oppressive, leaving little room to seek out safety and protection, aside from communities that folks build for themselves.
Conflicts between one’s internal reality and therefore the way the planet is, are often a source of major distress. The issues start when one is quite young, of course, and can feel the difference or have their differences pointed out, most times harshly by mean people.

 

Statistics about LGBT youth at school

Puberty is a difficult time for many young people and can be particularly challenging for LGBT community. LGBT youth are at a higher risk for bullying, oppression, mocking, and physical violence than their heterosexual counterparts due to cultural stigmas and Negative attitudes.

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) published a report in 2013 on LGBT or homosexual youth stating the following:

  • 55% of LGBT youth feels unsafe at school due of their sexual orientation. 
  • 37% of homosexual adolescents feel unsafe because of their gender expression.
  • 74% of LGBT youth were vocally harassed because of their sexual orientation, and 55 % were verbally beleaguered for their gender expression.
  • 16% were physically abused, either kicked, punched, or harmed with a weapon, because of their sexual orientation, and 11 % of them underwent this type of physical assault because of their gender expression.

A unreceptive school environment affects a student’s performance in school and their mental health. LGBT students who go through victimization, ill treatment and discrimination usually have worse grades and don’t perform as well academically. 

Home life for LGBT youth

Challenges or difficulties for many LGBT youth aren’t confined to schools or colleges. How a parent responds to their LGBT teen can have a tremendous impact on their child’s current and future mental and physical health. Several parents respond adversely upon learning that their teenage kid is LGBT and may even disown them or throw them out of the house, while other LGBT teens flee away from their homes due to conflict or stress with their guardians. Because of this, LGBT youth is also at a higher risk for homelessness than their heterosexual peers.

The True Colors Fund states that 1.6 million youths experience homelessness every year and that 40 percent of homeless youths identify as LGBT. This number is even more astounding considering that LGBT youths make up only 7 percent of the youth population. Homeless youths are at a greater risk for discrimination, victimization, and mental health issues than those who aren’t homeless.

Stresses undergone by LGBT youth expose them to a higher risk for mental health issues and other health risks than heterosexual-cisgender youths. These health risks include:

  • behaviours that add up to violence, such as carrying a weapon or indulging in fights
  • behaviours that contribute to unintentional injuries, such as driving without a seatbelt or driving drunk
  • tobacco, alcohol, or other drug use
  • risky sexual behaviours, such as not using birth control
  • depression
  • suicide or suicide attempts

LGBT adults

Studies suggest that gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults also have greater rates of temper and anxiety disorders (bipolar disorders) and are more prone to suicidal behaviour than heterosexual adults. Depression in gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults is typically rooted in victimization and discrimination from childhood and teenage years. 

Some researches aim to study depression among older gay men. It studies cognitive behavioural therapy, its advantages, and how impactful it is for homosexual men over the age of sixty.

Mental health of transgenders

Transgenders in India are repetitively told that they don’t ‘fit’ into the socially accepted concepts of the male-female binary, they’re frequently flustered with insensitive comments, and are subjected to feelings of oblivious hate. They are those people who are struggling to be ‘good enough’ on a daily basis. They fight every day to measure as who they are; not because they suffer from any physical illness, but rather because they’re victims of unruly social norms and rigid stereotypical attitudes. To be surviving in such a harmful social atmosphere may be a task and such situations are a particular tract for serious psychological state problems.

 


What transgender means?

Trans person usually refers to those who identify their gender as that of the sex that was not assigned at their birth. Trans persons are grouped into two major categories — Transmen and Transwomen. A Transman refers to a person who was assigned the sex of a female but identifies as a male. A Transwoman refers to an individual who was assigned the sex of a male but identifies as a female. The term trans person is an umbrella term and includes a couple of other gender-related categories also .
Over the years, the LGBTIQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, and others) has developed as a vibrant and powerful community. They are a population of individuals who are united in having gender identities or sexual orientations that differ from the heterosexual and cisgender norms.


What Does Literature Say Of Mental Health Issues Among Transgenders In India?


In India, the concept of trans persons is popularly understood in the form of the ‘Hijra’ community. The individuals belonging to the Hijra community go through a lot of troubled conditions — their physical health problems, including high rates of HIV and, psychological state problems, like depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal tendencies, and drug abuse. The adults who belong to LGBT and have experienced discrimination have average stress levels of 6.4, compared to 6.0 for LGBT adults overall. Among adults who are non-LGBT, stress levels are 5.5 for those that have experienced discrimination and 5.0 for non-LGBT adults overall.
The transgender population is direly affected by mental health problems like depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and self-harm. The statistics and information available are staggering and alarming. There is always some form of a stigma attached to seeking help for mental health troubles, and to add to that, the severe stigma attached to belonging to the transgender community makes it harder for people of the community to succeed in out for help. If they do so at all, there are chances of them being mistreated or not treated at all.
Transgender were for the longest period of time considered to be pathologically ill. It is within the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V that the diagnosis of identity Disorder was replaced with Gender Dysphoria. The worldwide medical fraternity no longer refers to trans person individuals as having an illness, but rather that they have a choice and right to decide their way of living. This is all nice and fine on paper, but the tough and haunting reality is that the misguided and ignorant views of the overall population on people belonging to the transgender community.

 

Support

Support can commence from childhood and teenage years. It’s essential that LGBT youths have support, both in school and at home. LGBT youths should feel comfortable and safe in environments that are socially, emotionally, and physically supportive.

School

Resources to support LGBT teens are still lacking in a lot of schools, but school climate and attitudes toward LGBT youths has improved over the years, according to GLSEN. 

Some reports also suggest that LGBT youths who have access to support groups fare better in school. Schools can volunteer to do a number of things to ensure that the environment is safer and more supportive of LGBT youth, including:

  • executing clear guidelines against discrimination, assaults and harassment
  • encouraging support groups, such as gay-straight unions, and other such student clubs
  • applying LGBT issues as part of the study curriculum
  • having a supportive and kind staff

Home

Parents should be willing to talk openly with their teen about any problems they’re having at home or school and be watchful for signs of bullying or violence. Parents should:

  • talk
  • listen
  • be supportive
  • be proactive
  • stay involved in their teen’s life

Suicide prevention

If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
  • Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline.



Coming out

 

The phrase ‘coming out’ can have several aspects to LGBTQ+ individuals. Sometimes individuals struggle with their self-awareness of their sexual orientation. They hesitate to come out of the shell because of the risks of facing prejudice and discrimination. ‘Coming out’ is often an important psychological step for LGBT people. Research has shown that feeling positive about one’s sexual orientation and integrating it into one’s life fosters greater well-being and psychological state .
LGBTQ+ individuals are at great risk for poor mental health across developmental stages. Various research evidence has shown elevated rates of major depression, anxiety disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance use and abuse and suicidal ideations and attempts. 

 

In addition to the effects of stigma and discrimination, the LGBTQ+ population also often obtains mental health support for:
Gender dysphoria, a psychological condition experienced by individuals whose gender identity and expression does not match with the gender assigned at birth. Sexual identity issues refer to the emotions, thoughts, feelings, and fantasies that contribute to a person’s sexual or romantic attraction to another person. LGBTQ+ individuals often go through periods of questioning their sexual identity, which can cause confusion and stress. Also pertinent to the LGBTQ+ community and sexual identity issues is the “coming out” process, and coping with the reactions of friends and family. Various studies have shown, prejudice, more specifically prejudice against LGBTQ+ people consistently reduces when members of the majority group interact more with the minority group.

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Some of the instrumental ways in which you can contribute are as follows:


Educate yourself to increase your understanding. 

Learn more about the human rights laws and how they pertain to the LGBT population. 

Learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and their struggles.

Be supportive and encouraging to your family members, friends and peers. 

Seek professional help.

Speak up if you witness (or are the victim of) discrimination.

Share your experiences with others 9) Importance of therapy.


In most of the cases, people with LGBT orientation who seek psychotherapy do so for the same reasons as heterosexual people, like, stress, relationship difficulties, difficulty adjusting to social or work situations, etc. Their sexual orientation may be of primary, incidental, or no importance to their issues and treatment and psychotherapy. Most often, LGBTQ+ affirmative therapy is applied to empower the individual in all areas of life and
relationship; affirmative approach honours the challenges faced by them on a daily basis and navigates them in an effective way.
If you are facing any discomfort with your sexual orientation, people judging you, dilemma of how to ‘come out’, stress, anxiety or any other mental health conditions as a result of stigma and/or discrimination, getting support from a professional therapist can help you learn ways to better co pe, feel less isolated, and establish overall mental health and well-being.

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