For Pride Month, we celebrate the diversity and vitality of our LGBTQ community. It’s a time to spread awareness, support, and recognition. But it’s also a stark reminder that LGBTQ individuals are nearly three times as likely to experience mental illness, such as generalized anxiety or major depression. LGBTQ individuals with mental health troubles don’t often open up about these issues, and can even suffer from a lack of awareness, preventing people from getting the treatment and support they need.
LGBTQ Social Stigma, Discrimination, and Abuse
LGBTQ individuals see an elevated rate of social stigma, prejudice, discrimination, denial of civil rights, harassment, abuse, social exclusion, and family rejection. All of which can easily translate into ongoing mental health issues. It could be an individual is struggling with fear of coming out, ongoing discrimination among peers, or difficulty understanding and defining their sexual orientation or gender identity. This can lead to not only deep depression, but post-traumatic stress, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse.
It starts with you…
While not all LGBTQ people will face these mental health challenges, the individuals that do can often feel they are without hope or options. One critical step you can take to strengthening LGBTQ mental health, is practice acceptance and compassion for people in your life. It doesn’t have to be a big proclamation or verbal commitment; something as small as inviting them to the next cookout, catching up with them on social media, or waving to a neighbor on your street could turn around someone’s entire day. And hopefully, if enough people practice this proactive kindness, we will help bring our LGBTQ peers out of any darkness they’re carrying.
LGBTQ Suicide Risk
Within the LGBTQ community, younger members in particular face a higher suicide risk due to lack of peer support, ongoing harassment, and a shortage of education on mental health resources.
Understand the risks…
- For LGBTQ individuals aged 10-24, suicide is among the leading causes of death.
- LGBTQ individuals are four times more likely to attempt suicide, have suicidal thoughts, or to engage in self-harm.
- In transgender individuals, the prevalence of suicidal thoughts can be as high as 65%.
- Those who face rejection after coming out are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than one who was accepted.
If a friend is sick, we say they should go to the doctor. If they have a toothache, they should go see a dentist. This is because you understand the risks associated with being sick and having a toothache, and you wouldn’t recommend your friends go it alone. So, why not recommend a mental health therapist when a friend is struggling with coming out or with gender identity? The more people who understand the risks that the LGBTQ community faces, the more evangelists for their mental health we will start establishing.
Reach out now…
If you or someone you know identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, and recognize any of these struggles or fears, finding the right provider is essential to your ongoing well-being and your overall life. You need a provider with whom you feel completely comfortable, that you can be open and feel safe with. Whether that’s myself or with another mental health therapist, do not wait to start reaching out. It may take some time, but it could start you on a path to less depression, less fear, and less feelings of hopelessness. We are here to help.
Book an appointment for a free 30-minute consultation with Austin Bridges Therapy. I’m ready to listen.