Updated: May 24
TW: This post discusses subjects of abuse, assault and suicide.
May is Mental Health Month and the LGBTQIA+ community is no stranger to a unique set of issues. Understanding and addressing causes of harm that can negatively affect well-being and development is essential for providing adequate care. With more awareness, we can collectively support one another in healing and support and encourage seeking professional help when needed.
Some aspects that create stress and harm for LGBTQIA+ community are as follows:
Coming Out. In a perfect world, the pressure and/or risk of coming out would not exist! Unfortunately, fear of adverse reaction from family, friends and colleagues creates internal conflict for queer-identified individuals. Bracing for negative impact is always at the forefront of when and how to come out to others with fear of strained relationships adding most of the pressure.
Rejection. In a survey from Pew Research Center, 40% of LGBTQIA+ individuals reported experiences of rejection from close people in their lives. Parental rejection is a source of pain for many individuals, but is often common for members of the queer community. As family foundations play an integral role in adolescent development, the link between parental rejection and queer identity may help or hinder further navigation as a queer person in society settings, especially after coming out.
Trauma. Prejudices like homophobia, transphobia and biphobia can lead to bullying, often resulting in PTSD over prolonged periods. Bullying and discrimination play a large part in the specific trauma experienced by the queer community and sadly start in childhood academic settings. A GLSEN study reported that 86% of LGBTQ youth have been harassed or assaulted at school.
Sexual Assault. According to the HRC, the rates of sexual assault experienced by the LGBTQIA+ community are staggering in comparison to cis, hetero individuals. 3 out of 5 trans women will experience intimate partner violence from the age of 16 onward, according to a survey by Trans PULSE Canada.
Homelessness. The LGBTQIA+ community is at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness, by a staggering rate of 120%, compared to non-LGBTQIA+ individuals. Black, Native American and Alaskan Native face higher rates. Queer people face a larger degree of discrimination and harassment from and in homeless shelters.
Due to the impact of bullying and rejection, the LGBTQIA+ community faces higher rates of depression, drug use and suicide. Denying access to opportunities, compounded with other prejudices such as racism or sexism, work against creating needed stability for queer youth. Targeted violence, whether physical or psychological, is a source of trauma no one should experience and yet it is all too familiar for the queer community.
Thankfully, individuals who have had difficult or traumatic experiences can find some healing with proper support. Mental health treatment and therapy plays a large role in lessening the burden of negative experiences faced in the current and the past. Education and approach is equally as important. Dissuasion from speaking about mental health issues have kept many people from being open and seeking help, no matter their identity or experiences. Too often this results in compounded overwhelm and stress over periods of time. Everyone deserves to feel safe while confronting the struggles they or their collective community face and having health care professionals who understand the issues the LGBTQIA+ community come across is incredibly important for proper care.
Luckily, there are many compassionate and educated health care providers that understand the struggles within the LGBTQIA+ community. Queer psychologist Dr. Dani Rosenkrantz shares hope regarding the road to healing and recovery:
“As a psychologist that supports LGBTQ+ mental health and well-being in Florida, I have undoubtedly seen an increase in minority stress, anxiety, grief, and anger at the loss of access to life saving gender affirming care and dehumanization of queer lives. At the same time, I have seen increases in our community coming together, engaging in care, creativity, resistance, and celebration of being LGBTQ+. As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness month, remember that community is the antidote, and connecting to joy is both essential to mental health and well-being and a beautiful act of resistance.”
Equal Health offers a Mental Health Medication Membership for the LGBTQIA+ community and the initial appointment serves as an evaluation and subsequent treatment analysis, if needed. Appointments are recommended primarily to those who are struggling with mild to moderate depression and/or anxiety. With a screening tool to aid in a formal diagnosis, Equal Health aims to support patients with various treatment options. Additionally, Equal Health provides referrals to LGBTQIA+ friendly psychiatrists and therapists.
"Identity and Cultural Dimensions: LGBTQI", National Alliance on Mental Illness