Even with increasing understanding and acceptance, those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), have a number of key challenges to overcome. Even in the most tolerant communities, mental health issues are a major concern for LGBT individuals. Discrimination and bullying are key influencers that can lead to feelings of isolation, which can evolve into depression and anxiety, over time. Understanding these issues is important for any LGBT, as well as their friends, families, and associates, who all have the opportunity to offer support.
Key Factors that can Lead to LGBT Mental Health Issues
Everyday life can be harder for LGBT groups to face. Individuals are commonly impacted by the following scenarios, each of which can leave dangerous scars on mental health.
- Feelings of low self-esteem.
- Not every LGBT person will identify and accept their orientation easily. This can lead to interpersonal problems and family stress. In many cases this can lead to alcohol and substance abuse, as well as other self-destructive behaviors.
- Individuals can suffer from homophobic or other bigoted comments.
- Some LGBT individuals will have difficulty reconciling their orientation with their religion, and few organized religions are tolerant of LGBT people.
- Harassment or discrimination in the workplace may be difficult to overcome.LGBT youths can experience bullying and exclusion at school.
- Violent attacks are a real threat in some societies.
How These Problems can Impact Mental Health
Conflict and isolation are common feelings within LGBT groups. In many cases, homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people may hide their true orientation and identity, which can be taxing on the individual. This can also lead to low feelings of self-worth, which may eventually manifest as self-harm.
According to the United States CDC, suicide is the leading cause of death for young persons aged between 10 and 24. LGBT youths are up to 4x times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youths. Some older studies suggest that LGBT youths may be up to 6x more likely to consider suicide, when compared to heterosexual youths. These are dangerous figures, which further highlight the need to understand the huge challenge that LGBT individuals face in society. Statistics suggest that youth ages are most vulnerable of developing mental health issues, but this does not mean that older demographics do not face the same challenges and problems.
The American Psychological Association lists two key disorders as being the most severe within the LGBT community. Those are Clinical Depression, and also Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Even for someone with the most limited understanding of LGBT issues, it is fairly obvious that these conditions would be a direct result of societal perceptions of LGBT, as well as the discrimination and emotional or physical bullying that is commonly directed at LGBT groups and individuals.
Support and Understanding for LGBT People
Whether you’re LGBT yourself, or are seeking to better understand someone you care about, recognizing the need for support is essential. Proactive engagement, along with the help of mental health services, can dramatically increases the quality of life of an LGBT, while decreasing the risks of dangerous behaviors and even death.