Mental Health Issues Among LGBTs: Why Discriminate?

Some people are born different. They don’t fit into the general category or gender and are identified as LGBTQ or LGBTQ+. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. The plus (+) sign in it means ‘inclusion.’ People who feel they are unique and don’t fit into these ‘boxes’ can become its part. Some people also find it ‘offensive’ to use the word ‘queer’ and prefer using LGBT+ only. But due to some unfortunate events, as discussed further, mental health issues among LGBTs can increase.

As the world progresses, many countries have risen above hatred and consider LGBTs as part of their society. Almost all progressive nations, including Canada, the US, the UK, Denmark, France, New Zealand, and Brazil, continue to improve their LGBT rights.

This is also encouraging conservative nations to provide equal rights to such people. Countries are framing laws to provide LGBT+ people social security and freedom to live as they wish. Many governments, however, are yet to provide legal status to LGBT+ people. This social exclusion causes feelings of neglect and leads to a series of mental and physical health issues among LGBT+ people.

Mental Health Issues Among LGBTs Are on the Rise

Various studies have shown that LGBT+ people are more susceptible to mental health problems than heterosexuals. Countries like the United States, Canada, and the UK have provided legal rights to LGBTs. However, their policies are yet to see a complete change in societal behavior. Most countries, however, need to do a lot to end years of neglect, hate crimes, homophobia, and isolation of LGBTs. 

Consistent problems facing LGBTs have led to a series of mental health issues in them. Depressed over social trauma and constant neglect, they find solace in alcohol or other highly contentious substances like heroin or cocaine. Adding to their woes are inadequate health services that fail to understand their needs fully. This can often result in low quality of life for them.

What does data on Mental Health Issues Among LGBTs people suggest?

Various studies have clearly shown that LGBT people face much more discrimination than non-LGBTs. As per Reisner’s study conducted in 2015, transgender people face four-times more depression than others. Reisner’s research also showed that around 20 percent of trans people have once in life attempted suicide. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 survey said 60 percent of LGBTs felt depressed in their life. Kann’s study in 2016 confirmed the chances of LGBTs likely to commit suicide are four times higher than heterosexuals.

Substance abuse problem

Our social fabric is not so strong when it comes to protecting the rights of LGBT people. Social exclusion of LGBT people can lead to depressing thoughts. Many people find peace in drugs as they fail to seek validation in the society they live in. Consistent use of illegal narcotics and indulgence in heavy drinking causes various physical and mental health problems. Many times, this leads to untimely deaths. Research shows lesbians, bisexual women, gays, and bisexual men are more likely to engage in alcohol and illicit drug abuse than heterosexuals. There is also a direct correlation between socio-cultural factors and substance abuse. 

Social stigma, discrimination, and bullying

Over the years, the LGBT+ community people have faced social stigma, discrimination, bullying, and, many times, intense violence. This can have a profound impact on their mental well-being or psychological health. Some people have a conservative environment at home or school and college. Due to the lack of awareness, they bury thoughts and hide their true identity. This fuels a feeling of disgust, self-hatred, and helplessness. Such incidents, especially at the developmental stage, lead to depression, drug abuse, sexual abuse, and post-traumatic stress among children. If not addressed timely, they can have drastic consequences.

Home environment and school education

Living in constant fear of abandonment, exclusion, and discrimination can foster anxiety among LGBTs. In such situations, they may consider withdrawing from such circumstances as the best option. So, the family plays a vital role in their emotional wellbeing. Studies show prejudice and hate crimes tend to reduce significantly with the support of family and community. From the stages of ‘coming out’ to fitting in society – family’s support is a must. Strong family bonds can stop such individuals from taking extreme steps. Kids are more likely to stand up against discrimination if there’s a healthy atmosphere in the family.  

Bleak future and unsupportive environment 

LGBT+ individuals face a major identity crisis at their developmental stage. This impacts their psychological health and causes confusion, insecurity, and depression. As LGBT people try to fit into society, they go through a lot of uncertainty about their future. Young people, sometimes, may see a bleak future for themselves in their old age. Inadequate health infrastructure, unsupportive societal structure, and issues related to their independence can lower their morale and self-confidence. Thoughts about either having or adopting kids or the inability to have children can be self-detrimental.

Social Isolation and Discrimination 

LGBTs face more isolation than others in general. Add to that the discrimination that they have to meet at the workplace or society. Sometimes, even those taking care of their needs, including house help, may also face difficulties. The isolation can also create hurdles in getting access to proper health facilities and other essential services. 

People dealing with such issues should find or create core groups. With them, they can share problems and celebrate happy moments. 

What is the way forward?

Proper sensitization of society on LGBT issues is very critical to create an ideal community. Many European nations and countries like the US and Canada have the most progressive LGBT laws. However, they still have a long way to go to ensure equal rights to each LGBT person. Human rights experts believe it’s the need of the hour to educate more people to be empathetic towards LGBTs. People should respect each individual’s right to live as per their sexual orientation. Family members must learn ways to deal with their children without making them feel neglected. A healthy and welcoming environment can help such individuals deal with mental trauma and choose their future path. 

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