LGBTQIA+ People’s Mental Health

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual and trans people experience mental health problems, just like any other group within society.

However, studies have revealed that levels of depression, anxiety, stress and paranoia are significantly higher among this demographic for a whole host of reasons.

Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, paranoia and stress can affect anyone. Whilst there are some risk factors which make suffering more likely, these mental health issues do not tend to discriminate.

However, recent studies have revealed that these mental health issues tend to be higher in minority groups, including the LGBTQIA+ community 1]. It is important to understand that being LGBTQIA does not cause mental health issues.

However, people who classify themselves as LGBTQIA+ do tend to experience more risk factors that would contribute to mental health issues, including bullying, discrimination, social isolation and rejection.

In addition to this, the idea and reality of ‘coming out’ to people you know and love can also cause high levels of mental distress, which can lead to long term mental health issues such as anxiety, paranoia, stress and depression.

The statistics surrounding LGBTQIA+ people and mental health

There have now been numerous studies which examine the statistics surrounding mental health issues and being a member of the LGBTQIA+ society. Unfortunately, these statistics only highlight the extent of the growing issues across the World.

For example, over half of all LGBTQIA+ people have admitted to self harming at some point during their life. In addition to this, 44% of all young LGBTQIA+ people have thought about taking their own life at some point during their young life.

There are other studies which have examined each demographic in more detail.

For example, 10% of all lesbians and bisexual women who have a disability have considered taking their life at some point. 11% of all trans people have also thought about killing themselves at some point, with 3% having tried to take their own life on a number of occasions, at least 10 times.

As you can see, these statistics are incredibly upsetting and worrying and highlights a huge issue when it comes to mental health within the LGBTQIA+ society.

What it means to be LGBTQIA+

Unfortunately, even in today’s society, it can be incredibly hard to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and more.

Whilst this might be confusing for certain heterosexual individuals, it is incredibly important that everyone within the LGBTQIA+ society feels acknowledged and accepted.

What does it mean to be trans?

Trans is short for transgender. Transgender is when someone identifies their gender as something which is different to the gender that they are born with. For example, you could be born a male but identify yourself as a woman. Likewise, you could be born a female and identify yourself as a man.

Usually, if you are transgender then you will start to have these thoughts and feelings at a young age. Alternatively, you might only start to identify yourself as trans later in life, once you have more life experience and know yourself better.

1. What does it mean to be pansexual?

If you are pansexual, then you will find yourself attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender. Essentially, someone who is pansexual will be attracted to all genders.

It is important to understand the difference between pansexual and bisexual, as many people tend to use these terms interchangeably although there are clear differences. Essentially, being bisexual means that you are attracted to two or more genders, usually male and female. However, when you are pansexual you are attracted to people regardless of their gender.

2. What does it mean to be queer?

Queer is an overarching term that describes anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Someone might identify themselves as queer if they are still yet to confidently identify their sexuality or think that this might change overtime.

3. What does the ‘+’ stand for?

The plus (+) in the LGBTQIA+ stands for anyone who might not identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex or asexual. Essentially, the plus (+) stands for anyone who does not classify themselves into any of the categories of gender and sexuality.

Types of discrimination

Unfortunately, people who classify themselves as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community still experience many different types of discrimination. This discrimination puts them at greater risk of developing mental health issues.

There are lots of different types of discrimination this group has to deal with, including overt and hidden discrimination as well as those included in the list below.

  • Unequal pay due to someone’s sexuality
  • Refusing to serve someone on the basis of their appearance or sexuality
  • Refusing to house a prospective tenant due to their appearance or sexuality
  • Sexual harassment due to someone’s appearance or sexuality

No type of discrimination is okay and no type of discrimination should be tolerated. There are now numerous laws and regulations in place to prevent discrimination towards the LGBTQIA+ community, although unfortunately discrimination still exists.

Risk factors

Unfortunately, even in today’s society, there are a number of risk factors that might lead someone who classifies as LGBTQIA+ to suffer from mental health issues and disorders.

It is incredibly important to acknowledge and understand that being LGBTQIA+ does not cause mental health problems. Unfortunately, it is society’s treatment of this group which often leads to these mental health problems.

1. Coming out can cause mental turmoil

Some people find coming out to be a positive experience. This could be because they feel confident that they will be met with positive reactions. However, a lot of people still feel anxious, nervous and even ill at the idea of coming out to their friends and family.

Unfortunately, this can have a huge impact on an individual’s mental health. The idea and anticipation of coming out can cause high levels of anxiety and turmoil, whilst the reality of the reaction they are met with can also cause depression and sadness.

2. Healthcare complexities

Complexities in healthcare can also cause mental health issues. Although our healthcare system is accepting of all genders and sexualities, those who do identify as LGBTQIA+ do find issues within the current healthcare system which has an effect on their mental health.

This includes things such as inappropriate curiosity by doctors or nurses, straight up discrimination and being ‘outed’ by doctors or other medical staff to other staff members, family members or patients.

This not only has a huge impact on the individual’s mental health, but it also means that this group are also less likely to want to seek medical help when they really need it.

3. Body image

Unfortunately, almost half of all individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ say that they suffer from body image issues.

This is because lots of people who identify as LGBTQIA+ question their sexuality and gender, meaning that they are often uncomfortable in their body and skin. This has the ability to turn into body dysmorphia or eating disorders which is classified as a mental health condition.

4. Hate crime

Unfortunately, lots of people who identify themselves as LGBTQIA+ experience hate crimes. This means that these individuals are at a greater risk of being bullied or attacked due to their sexuality.

This has a huge impact on an individual’s mental health, with fear and anxiety playing a huge role in contributing to mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and paranoia.

Substance abuse and LGBTQIA+

Studies have now revealed that members of the LGBTQIA+ community are at greater risk of developing a substance use disorder.

This is because sexual minorities are proven to be at greater risk of developing a mental health condition, compared to heterosexual individuals.

These mental health conditions include things such as depression, anxiety and paranoia. This often results in suicidal thoughts, self harm, eating disorders and other mental health conditions.

This has highlighted how important it is that people who identify as LGBTQIA+ are screened for mental health conditions, and that all identifiable conditions are treated with the correct form of treatment swiftly and efficiently.

If you are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and think that you are suffering from a mental health or substance use disorder, then make sure you talk to a professional as soon as possible to get the help that you need.

Whilst there are a number of charities available to support you, if you are suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, then you might need to attend drug and alcohol rehab in order to recover.

There are two main types of rehab treatment, including outpatient rehab treatment and inpatient rehab treatment.

Some of specialist organisations that can help with alcohol rehab and drug rehab include Narcotics Anonymous, Rehab Recovery and SMART Recovery.

What help and support is available?

If you are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and are suffering from any metal health issues, then it is important to remember that there is help and support out there for you.

Below is a list of some organisations who might be able to help you if you are struggling:

1. The LGBT Foundation

The LGBT Foundation is a national charity which offers a range of services including support, advice and therapy to the LGBT community. They provide support for domestic abuse victims, housing advice, hate crime victims, sexual health and legal advice.

2. Imaan

Imaan is a charity devoted to helping Muslims within the LGBTQIA+ community. They provide help and support for people who might not have anyone else to turn to due to their religion, family and culture.

3. London Friend

London Friend is another charity dedicated to supporting those within the LGBTQIA+ community. They’ve now been operating for over 50 years and pride themselves on being able to provide professional counselling and support for anyone who might be struggling with their mental health.

This counselling is both online and in person and they also provide sexual health help as well as substance use support and advice.

4. Mind LGBTQIA+

Not everyone is aware that the charity Mind provides specialised and additional support for anyone within the LGBTQIA+ community. Mind LGBTQIA+ is not only campaigning for better support within the community, but they also provide a wide range of support for people suffering from mental health issues.

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