LGBTQ is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer. For years the community has been facing discrimination and preudice for their sexal orientation and gender identity. The former is about the sexual attraction of the person concerned, while the latter is the gender that the person identifies with, irrespective of the person’s biological sex.
This stigma impacts people’s mental health from the LGBTQ+ community, especially in youths, who may be either in the state of opening up with their friends and family about the same or have opened up and faced outright rejection. Before we venture to discuss the whys and hows of these youths getting depressed and suffering from mental disorders, there is one clarity; The low acceptance level in the society of the LGBTQ community often leads to terming all community members as people with a mental health condition. But, being a lesbian or gay is not a case of mental health. The sexual inclination amongst youths cannot be defined as a mental illness or disorder.
Reasons behind the mental health issues in the LGBTQ community
The most prevalent reason behind youths’ mental health issues from this community is societal stigma and lack of sensitivity. Most youths are caught in doubt or self-denial initially, and when they accept their sexual identity or orientation, unfavourable reactions from family members and immediate society put pressure on their minds.
In the larger community, they are often denied their civil and human rights. Such discrimination and the social unacceptance of their sexual identity and orientation leads to a higher incidence of substance abuse – drugs, smoke and alcohol, psychiatric disorders like depression, and suicides. Such discriminatory attitudes and intolerance affect the mental health equity of youths in the already stigmatized community.
The shaming, unacceptance, and ignorance of their straight counterparts too can cause them many mental discomforts.
Another reason that causes mental disorders amongst the youths is that they are persistently uncomfortable about letting others know about their identity. The fear of rejection is another cause that leads to stress and depression amongst the youth of the community.
What do statistics reveal?
Different surveys and research within the youth of the LGBTQ community have revealed the following:
• Women are more open about their being a part of the LGBTQ community.
• Millennials (born between 1980 to 1999) are more open about their sexual identity and orientation than Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979).
• Members of the community face non-sexual and sexual harassment, with the former being more prevalent. They are also likely to face violence because of their sexual preferences.
• More than half of the young LGBTQs suffer from depression, saying that they have fewer employment opportunities. On the same note, at least half of the members draw lesser salaries than their straight counterparts.
• 38% of transgender people experience offensive comments, while 22% avoid healthcare because they are discriminated against.
• The youths from the community have at least two times more likely to have suicidal feelings and have four times higher chances of attempting suicide than their straight counterparts.
• Not just that, many from the community report that they have faced issues from healthcare providers who use abusive and harsh language, deny care, and even blame the sexual preference of the person for illness.
• Youths from the LGBTQ community are at risk of higher mental health issues – 61% have depression, 36% anxiety-related issues, and 45% PTSD.