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Navigating the Challenges: Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing in the LGBTQIA+ Community

Navigating the Challenges: Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing in the LGBTQIA+ Community


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) individuals are a subset of the general population that identify as different from them in terms of gender or sexual orientation. Although many LGBTQ individuals struggle with mental health concerns, being LGBTQ is not in and of itself a mental disease.

LGBTQ people are more prone to experience mental health problems because they are more likely to face stigma, discrimination, and negative or traumatic situations [1]. Due to a number of harmful preconceptions surrounding the LGBTQ community, some people may find it difficult to be open about their identity. The sensation of loneliness might worsen when someone hides their genuine identity.

Additionally, LGBTQ people utilise mental health services 2.5 times more frequently than non-LGBT people do [1].


Mental Health Challenges Faced by LGBTQIA+ Community


The internalisation of adversities, prejudice, and societal stigma often leave LGBTQIA individuals vulnerable to a range of mental health disorders. A generalised lack of self-worth, debilitating hopelessness, and the weight of worry—especially social anxiety, which may obstruct daily interactions and relationships—are just a few examples of the many diverse ways these barriers might manifest. A lot of people may also suffer from eating disorders and turn to harmful coping mechanisms, such as drug and alcohol abuse, in an attempt to mask their identities or lessen their pain. Unfortunately, some people suffer with suicidal thoughts or self-harm as a result of feeling overly pressured by society to be accepted and judged. Affirming environments and inclusive support networks are crucial, as the aforementioned mental health issues demonstrate [2].


None of these issues are caused by being LGBTQIA+. They are more likely to occur in those of us who identify as LGBTQIA+ for a variety of complex reasons. But the majority of the time, it has to do with dealing with issues like: homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia; stigma and discrimination; challenging coming-out experiences; social isolation, exclusion, and rejection [3].


Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Abuse Among LGBTQIA+ Community


Sexual assault affects every group and community, including the LGBTQ+ community. Lesbian, homosexual, and bisexual people are reportedly more likely than heterosexuals to encounter sexual violence [4]. According to studies, over half of bisexual women and transgender people will encounter sexual violence at some point in their lives.

In abusive relationships, "outing" or making threats to reveal one partner's sexual orientation or gender identity can be a technique of abuse and a barrier that lessens the possibility that the abuse will be reported or that help will be sought.

 

The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey for LGB individuals found that:

Intimate relationship rape, physical abuse, and stalking are experienced by 44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women, compared to 35 percent of straight women, according to the CDC's National Intimate relationship and Sexual Violence Survey for LGB individuals [3].


• Rape, physical assault, or stalking by an intimate partner occurs in 26% of homosexual men and 37% of bisexual men, compared to 29% of straight men.

• 22 percent of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to 9 percent of straight women; 46 percent of bisexual women have experienced a rape, compared to 17 percent of straight women and 13 percent of lesbians.

• 40 percent of gay men and 47 percent of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared to 21 percent of straight men.


Understanding Anxiety and Depression


The percentage of anxiety and depression among LGBTQ people is between 30 and 60 percent, which is 1.5 to 2.5 times greater than the rate in other populations [3].

People in the LGBTQ community experience mental health issues, notably anxiety, more frequently for a variety of reasons.

Anxiety for LGBTQ people often stems from stigma. Stigma still lingers despite the fact that the world and attitudes are changing. People in this community continue to experience victimisation, trauma, rejection, and discrimination.

Social connection and support are crucial for preventing, reducing, and alleviating anxiety. An effective social network that offers support and lessens isolation is beneficial for anyone dealing with mental health issues.

Numerous underlying factors can contribute to depression, but continuous psychological stress is one of them. Uncontrollable stress factors, such as stigma, discrimination, and a lack of legal rights, can cause depression in some marginalised populations.


Navigating the Depths: Empowering Strategies for Confronting Anxiety and Depression


Focusing on taking care of your own physical and emotional needs through self-care, such as meditation, art, or journaling; creating a support network by contacting friends, family, or other LGBTQIA+ community members; engaging in activities that make you happy and connect with others.


Low Self Esteem


LGBT youth who experienced family rejection due to their identity had substantially poorer self-esteem and less resources available to them. In comparison to individuals who were accepted by their families, they are also less supported and more alone.

Addressing low self-esteem among LGBTQ people is particularly essential since those who are struggling with it may turn to drugs and alcohol in an effort to cope. It can not only make their life better and more meaningful, but it can also act as a safeguard against addiction and relapse.

Finding the ideal addiction treatment programme can be essential for fostering self-worth, recovery, and avoiding relapse.

Prevalence of Self Harm and Suicidal Feelings Among LGBTQIA+ Youth


According to data, 59% of adolescent members of the LBGTQI community have thought about suicide, while 48% had self-harmed[3]. These figures regrettably capture the loneliness and emotional distress that many people experience.

The leap can frequently feel too huge if you are worried about what other people will think. Self-harm might result from the sense of being at conflict with oneself. Due to their beliefs, culture, ignorance, or fear, your family may struggle to deal with your coming out.

It can be challenging to figure out who you are and to create your self-identity, but doing so can help you get to know yourself better and, ideally, make you happy.


• Gay men are six times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual men and women, while lesbian women are twice as likely.

• When LBGT kids come out to family and friends, suicide risk increases. This increased risk is exacerbated by the rejection or lack of support from family, friends, peers, and society.


Support — “Spread Love Not Hate


The following are some actions that society and institutions can take to create a more welcoming and safer environment for LGBTQIA+ students:


  1. Provide gender-neutral facilities: Ensure that restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities are available that are inclusive and respectful of students' gender identities [5].

  2. Offer LGBTQIA+-inclusive counselling and mental health support: Employ counsellors and staff who are trained to provide affirming support for LGBTQIA+ students, who often face higher rates of mental health challenges [6].

  3. Implement LGBTQIA+-inclusive policies: Enact clear policies that prohibit discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, and enforce these policies consistently [6].

  4. Promote visibility and representation: Display visible signs and symbols that indicate the institution is a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQIA+ individuals, such as pride flags or "safe space" stickers [6].

  5. Provide professional development for staff: Ensure all faculty and staff receive training on LGBTQIA+ identities, terminology, and best practices for supporting LGBTQIA+ students [6].

  6. Foster open dialogue and education: Create opportunities for open, respectful discussions about sexual orientation, gender identity, and LGBTQIA+ issues in the classroom and throughout the institution [6].

 

Quiet Quarters: Nurturing Mental Well-Being in the Comfort of Home


Parents and guardians should be open to discussing any issues teenagers may be experiencing at home or at school, and they should also be on the lookout for any indications of bullying or violence. Talk to your teen, listen to them, support them, take an active role in their lives, and stay involved.


              “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself." – HARVEY FIERSTEIN



Author- Gurram Saathwika

Editor- Angad Tiwari



References:

1. Moagi, M. M., Der Wath, A. E. V., Jiyane, P. M., & Rikhotso, R. S. (2021, January 20). Mental health challenges of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people: An integrated literature review. Health SA Gesondheid, 26. https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v26i0.1487

2. Semlyen, J., & Rohleder, P. (2022, January 13). Critical psychology perspectives on LGBTQ+ mental health: current issues and interventions. Psychology & Sexuality, 13(5), 1105–1108. https://doi.org/10.1080/19419899.2021.2019961

3.  LGBTIQ+ people: statistics. (n.d.). Mental Health Foundation. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/statistics/lgbtiq-people-statistics

4. Wandrekar, J. R., & Nigudkar, A. S. (2020, January). What Do We Know About LGBTQIA+ Mental Health in India? A Review of Research From 2009 to 2019. Journal of Psychosexual Health, 2(1), 26–36. https://doi.org/10.1177/2631831820918129

5. Lee, C. (2023, June 6). Supporting LGBTQIA+ students in the classroom. Turnitin. https://www.turnitin.com/blog/supporting-lgbtqia-students-in-the-classroom

6. Hunter, J. (2023, September 12). What support is available for LGBTQIA+ university students? Student. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/blogs/what-support-available-lgbtqia-university-students

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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