June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, a time to celebrate and honor those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community. Pride is celebrated in June in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, often known as one of the first major demonstrations for gay liberation. At Healthy365, we serve and respect everyone in our local Central Indiana community, no matter your sexual or gender identity, and we also recognize that this population may be in greater need of our services. Let’s explore why mental health should be an important focus for those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Higher rates of mental health issues
According to the American Psychiatric Association, LGBTQ+ individuals are “2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance misuse compared with heterosexual individuals.” It is very important to note that being LGBTQ+ is not a mental disorder, as recognized by all major professional mental health organizations, but that the stigma and discrimination faced by this population can correlate with higher rates of mental health issues.
Many LGBTQ+ individuals report that they have experienced discrimination when trying to access health services, and some may put off or avoid healthcare/treatment altogether because of this stigma. People in this community may also have less social support than others, including from family and close friends. This isolation and trauma can have major impacts on mental health, including comorbid disorders such as anxiety, substance misuse, depression, PTSD or suicidal thoughts.
Marginalized communities within LGBTQ+
Although LGBTQ+ individuals, in general, are more likely to be victims of violence and discrimination, there are even smaller subsections of the community that are at a higher risk of mental health concerns. For example, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), transgender individuals “are almost four times as likely as cisgender individuals to experience a substance use disorder.”
Further, transgender individuals who identify as Black, Latino, Native American or Mixed Race are at an even higher risk of suicide attempts than the white transgender population. Young people in the LGBTQ+ community also experience higher rates of mental health concerns, with a four times higher rate of suicide attempts for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and two times higher for questioning youth compared to straight teens.
How allies and education can help
Recognizing these statistics is an important first step to helping those in the LGBTQ+ community. If you have a loved one who identifies with a sexual or gender identity that is different from your own, you can actively listen to their needs and offer support wherever you can. Educate yourself on how to be a good ally, including asking respectful questions, taking the LGBTQ+ person’s lead on inclusive language, and asking for preferred pronouns/offering your own. If you make a mistake in how you refer to someone, apologize sincerely and try again.
Pride celebrations, like our local Indy Pride in Indianapolis, are another great way for LGBTQ+ individuals to connect with others and feel less alone. Increasing visibility is very validating when many in this population may feel isolated within their family or a small town. Feeling connected to a community can have wonderful benefits for positive mental health, so celebrating Pride and the rich history of the LGBTQ+ population, even as an ally, can make a big difference in showing others you care.
At Healthy365, our Support Navigators are happy to provide a confidential listening ear to our clients and would be honored to connect you or a loved one with an LGBTQ+ affirming mental health professional. Contact us today at 317-468-4231 to learn more about the services we can provide for those struggling with mental health, substance misuse and more. And once again, Happy Pride!