Is Mental Health a Big Problem in the LGBT+ Community?
Recently, researchers have found evidence that suggests that compared to their heterosexual counterparts, gay men and lesbians suffer from more mental health problems, including substance abuse and suicide. There are always certain stigma, prejudice, discrimination, and homophobia attached to coming out, which can create a hostile and stressful social environment that causes mental health problems. Discrimination against the LGBTQ community has specifically been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. Research further shows that they are less likely to seek treatments for a mental health disorder due to fear of rejection and discrimination.
Several research findings show that when we accept who we are, and when we understand our identity, we feel whole and we become more confident. Closeted people often find their desires so unacceptable that they keep them out of their personal awareness, separating their sexual identity from their persona and further creating dissociative identity disorder. Psychologists also argue that trying to fit into society's categories throughout the majority of one's life can lead to low self-esteem and a negative body image, which can lead to fears of emotional intimacy and shame. This could lead to them following dangerous sexual habits, as well as participating in risky, destructive conduct. Many people turn to drug misuse and addictions as a result of being shunned by their peers, fearing embarrassment and imprisonment. According to research, conversion therapies may also lead to eating disorders, suicide attempts, and substance abuse.
Minority stress is another stressor that impacts the community. Minority stress means that within a certain society, specific communities are more likely to experience stress and discomfort due to prejudice and discomfort. Social culture and norms, formed generally by the dominant group, do not usually reflect the minority group due to which they are likely to experience conflicts. Internalised homophobia occurs when a person realises that they have same-sex attraction, but because of the societal values they began to apply negative attitudes to themselves which also causes psychological injuries and deviant identities. Stigmatisation also leads to anxiety where a person believes that no matter what others say, they will not accept that person as they are and hence they maintain high levels of vigilance. They may also experience discrimination, violence, and hate speech on an everyday basis which would lead to high levels of stress. All this leads to greater anxiety and reduced psychological wellness.
On the whole, the LGBTQ+ community may face many hurdles, and they have even less access to mental health services than their heterosexual counterparts. It is important to recognise the stigma and prejudice present in society and break them. Several movements, such as Pride Month, help connect people with similar experiences and reduce isolation. We cannot ignore the mental health crisis prevalent in the community, and by showing our support by turning up for marches, creating awareness, and actively listening to them, we can end this mental health problem that plagues the community.