People who have different gender or sexual identities from cisgender and heterosexual individuals fall under the LGBTQ+ community. It is an umbrella term used to identify individuals who identify differently or are still in the process of getting to know themselves. This community is however at high mental health risk. Studies say that LGBTQ+ are at least twice more likely to have mental health challenges in comparison with the general population. Now understanding why this happens is very important.
Why does the LGBTQ+ community suffer more mental health issues?
Though open about their sexuality and gender, individuals identifying themselves as LGBTQ+ are highly discriminated against. They are constantly heckled, mocked and bullied; be it in educational institutes, the workplace or society in general.
LGBTQ+ individuals are often lonely and secluded, mostly feeling as if no one has their back. Furthermore, they live in a constant state of fear; be it fear of violence, or fear of rejection by family and friends. They deal with biased behaviour, and homophobia and are stigmatised and triggered every day, and not by happenstance. Society is oriented in such a way that they ended up getting hurt or disrespected in one way or another. This leads to extreme mental pressure and isolation. It must however be clarified that identifying as LGBTQ+ is not a mental illness or disorder. But the behaviours they are meted out with lead to them having mental health problems. Studies say that individuals identifying as LGBTQ+ are likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, self-harm behaviour, substance use disorder, eating disorder, or a combination of any of these.
How to help and support people from the LGBTQ+ community?
1) Treat them as equals, like everyone else – It is important to see LGBTQ+ individuals as your equals, and not someone inferior. Having different gender identity or sexual orientation doesn’t make them any less human. Learn to embrace this diversity and have an open mindset.
2) Respect boundaries – While many individuals have already understood their true selves, many are still in the process of figuring themselves out. So do not ask about their birth sex or name, or any other personal details. Do not pry into their lives.
3) Use the correct language – Language reflects your attitude. So use your words with care and acknowledge the community. Use the pronouns preferred by them, use their new name and do not use socially derogatory terms while addressing them.
4) Keep learning about the community – It is always good to learn about the community, the internet is flooded with information which you can use to understand the LGBTQ+ community and rectify your behaviour.
5) Become an ally – To make the environment supportive and less hostile, it is important to become an active ally. Make it a regular practice to show up for your friends, neighbours, and family and be their support system.
Things LGBTQ+ can do to overcome mental health issues:
1) The simplest method is to talk. Talk to your friends, family, and loved ones. Tell them how you feel. Do not keep things boxed up within yourself. Though it may not be easy, this is one thing that LGBTQ+ individuals can do. This gives them room to be true to themselves and not have to hide anymore.
2) Counselling – Another important way is to talk with a therapist who is trained to work with the LGBTQ+ community.
This gives you a space to understand yourself and start your healing process. Counselling and therapy have multiple benefits and should be explored.
3) Support groups or organizations – The community is as supportive and versatile as its member. So, LGBTQ+ individuals must reach out to organizations and support groups. They help individuals by giving them a sense of belongingness, that they are not alone and many others are going through something similar.
Shared By : Sheetal Shaparia