Last month was Mental Health Awareness month. Now it is June, Pride Month. In solidarity with the LGBTQ community, we should also bring awareness to the mental health challenges members of this community face, and ways for them to improve or maintain their mental health.
What is the LGBTQ community?
The LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning) community is the group of people in the world who are non-heterosexual or non-cisgender. They come together as the LGBTQ community to support each other and spread awareness and knowledge to those who are not apart of the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ is the most common term used. However, LGBTQ+ and LGBTQI are also common terms used, but they all refer to the same community. Regardless of the term, it is important to always show respect for the terms and people of the community, just like you would any other community.
Do members of the LGBTQ community face specific mental challenges?
Absolutely. In our world, being different has not always been something to be proud of. To this day in some parts of the world, LGBTQ members are still persecuted for being who they are. Even here in America, LGBTQ people can be treated differently, simply because of who they love. Imagine being insulted or ignored because of who you were with. That’s a mental challenge many of us have the luxury of not facing.
Because of their hardships, many people in the LGBTQ community face mental health struggles like depression, anxiety disorder, or PTSD. They are also 9 times more likely to attempt suicide. While these issues are not directly linked to the disparities LGBTQ people face, it is definitely a contributing factor.
Many also struggle for years with their identity. From birth we are told who we are in terms of gender and sexuality. But for LGBTQ people, it is not always so black and white. They sometimes internalize and struggle over their differences fearing how others will react, which leads to serious mental health issues.
How can the LGBTQ community get help for their mental health?
The same way any of us do. In cases of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or PTSD, they should seek the help of a mental health professional. In today’s world, health professionals are becoming more knowledgeable on the specific health struggles the community faces, so now there are those who specialize in that sort of care. Speaking to any professional is a good idea, but for LGBTQ folks, it can be more comforting to talk with someone who knows specifically what they are going through and how to help.
Comradery is also helpful. Reach out to others in the LGBTQ community to vocalize your concerns and receive support. The LGBTQ community is known for its relentless acceptance of others and willingness to support and help. Online and social groups are a great way to talk with others who feel the same or have similar experiences, so I encourage doing this if you simply need a friend or two.
If you have a friend or family member who is a part of the LGBTQ community, be sure to show them your support not just this month, but every month.
By: Better Me by Dr. B
Editor: Ariel Thompson
Medical Reviewer: Dr. Tiffany Bell D.O.