Understanding LGBTQ+ and Mental Health
LGBTQ+ community stands for a group of people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Intersex. This community holds a group of many different identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations along with race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, and more. This diverse range of members is what encourages a strong sense of community and pride amongst its members.
Despite their pride, people in the LGBTQ+ community are experiencing higher levels of mental health concerns. One study found that 61% of individuals have depression, 45% have post-traumatic stress disorder, and 36% have an anxiety disorder. Another study found that transgender individuals are 9 times more likely to attempt suicide compared to the overall rate in the United States.
Identity & Discrimination
There are many contributing factors as to why the LGBTQ+ community experiences a higher rate of mental health issues, two of which are identity and discrimination.
Throughout society, many people experience an identity crisis, and individuals in the LGBTQ+ community experience it at a higher rate than their counterparts. This is because they also have to process how their sexual and gender identity integrates into who they are, their religious beliefs, their culture, and more.
In a recent study, 71% of LGBTQ+ youth experience sexual discrimination due to either their sexual orientation or gender identity. They’re often discriminated against by not only their peers, but their family, religion, and more. In addition, many members of the LGBTQ+ community do not seek medical or behavioral health services due to discrimination from providers who do not understand them, as a result they’re not receiving the help or support they need.
How can we help our loved ones who identify as LBGTQ+?
When it comes to being supportive of our loved ones who are part of the LGBTQ+ community it’s important to know how to be comfortable talking about it. You don’t need to be educated to gain a better understanding of how they’ve come to realize they identify as LGBTQ+. Ask open-ended questions, remain open-minded, and don’t be afraid to be educated. Creating a safe space for the person to feel comfortable talking about their identity within the LGBTQ+ community helps the individual feel comfortable and respected.
It’s important to use the proper pronouns and similar language as the individual. Ask what their pronouns are and begin to use them when referring to them whether they’re in front of you or not. Integrating these pronouns into your day-to-day language shows respect and acceptance of them. In addition, use similar language as the individual, if they identify as a queer, it’s important you use the same term as them so they feel seen and heard.
Most importantly, make sure your actions indicate love and respect, not just your words. It’s very easy to say you accept someone, it’s different to truly accept them as they are. These actions can be seen by actively listening, using the same language, and pronouns, and showing respect to them and those in their life.
Showing acceptance, will also help your loved one with identity integration. It will give them space and time to learn who they are, what they need, and how that fits into their morals, values, and beliefs.
Please note: The resources included here are not endorsed by NG Mental Health Counseling, PLLC, and NG Mental Health Counseling, PLLC is not responsible for the content of or service provided by any of these resources.