Building Resilience: Mental health in the LGBTQ+ Community

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo

Mental health challenges are prevalent within the LGBTQ+ community, driven by factors such as discrimination, social exclusion, and internalized stigma. These issues can lead to heightened levels of stress, depression and anxiety. Yet, the concept of resilience emerges as a powerful tool in navigating these adversities. This article delves into mental health resilience to enhance emotional wellbeing and support personal growth of the members of this community.

“LGBTQ+ people and other “sexual and gender diverse” people experience structural and interpersonal discrimination that adversely affects their wellbeing and drives disparate outcomes across crucial areas of life.”

  • More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ adults reported facing some kind of discrimination in the year prior to when they took the survey.
  • Half of the LGBTQ+ adults reported experiencing some form of workplace discrimination or harassment in the past year because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.
  • Nearly 3 in 10 LGBTQ+ adults reported experiencing some kind of housing discrimination or harassment in the past year because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.
  • Nearly 4 in 5 LGBTQ+ adults reported they took at least one action to avoid experiencing discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.
  • More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ adults reported postponing or avoiding medical care in the past year due to cost issues.

For more information about this report, please visit https://www.americanprogress.org/article/discrimination-and-barriers-to-well-being-the-state-of-the-lgbtqi-community-in-2022/

When it comes to stigma in the LGBTQ+ community, in the book “Global LGBTQ Health”, the authors mention, “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ) individuals face significant stigma globally. Examples of stigma range from extreme acts of violence, such as murder, to more subtle yet pervasive forms or marginalization and social exclusion, such as being socially rejected, denied employment opportunities, and given poor healthcare. Stigma has been identified as a fundamental cause of global LGBTQ health inequities.

Understanding these dynamics introduces us to the concept of minority stress, which refers a “framework that foregrounds the central role of stressors uniquely experienced among members of a minority group, including expressions of violence, stigma, and discrimination targeting the group in question, as potentially salient contributors to poor physical and mental health.”

According to Mass General Brigham McLean, “anxiety and depression are two of the most common forms of mental illness, both in the LGBTQ+ community and in heterosexual, cis populations. These conditions can have detrimental effects on everyone, including children, adolescents, young adults and older generations.”

  • Rather than creating states of listlessness and disinterest, anxiety manifests as hyperawareness and a constant feeling of being on edge or afraid. Anxiety is the feeling that there is a threat present, which in the case of LGBTQ+ mental health, is often justified.
  • PTSD arises because of traumatizing experiences that someone hasn’t adequately processed. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are particularly susceptible to PTSD.
  • Recent studies show that LGBTQ+ status is linked with disordered eating. Members of the community experience a greater incidence of eating disorders and disordered eating behavior than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.
  • All the above can increase suicide risk for an LGBTQ+ person. It is critical that if you are a member of this community or care about someone who is, you know the signs of suicidal thoughts and behaviors as well as preventative strategies.
  • One way that people attempt to deal with poor mental health is through substance use. Drugs and alcohol can temporarily numb the pain that comes with anxiety, depression, fear, PTSD, alienation, and isolation. Often, substance misuse will eventually lead to addiction if left untreated.

“LGBTQ+ youth should not have to live in a world where it’s required to be resilient. While everyone faces adversity and hardship in their lives to some degree, LGBTQ+ young people face additional stress and trauma simply for being who they are. This inequity has been exacerbated in our current sociopolitical environment. Having affirming family, friends, community members and peers can support an LGBTQ+ person’s resilience as can connecting with others through social media and videogaming.”

To conclude, mental health issues are prevalent within the LGBTQ+ community, driven by factors such as discrimination, social exclusion, and internalized stigma. These challenges result in higher stress, depression, and anxiety levels. However, resilience emerges as a powerful means to counter these difficulties, offering tools to improve mental wellbeing and support personal development. Addressing the root causes of these mental health challenges, such as stigma and discrimination, and fostering resilience within the LGBTQ+ community can lead to better health outcomes and a more equitable society.

References:

Earnshaw, V. A., Logie, C., Wickersham, J. A., & Kamarulzaman, A. (2024). LGBTQ Stigma. En Global LGBTQ Health (pp. 15–44). Springer International Publishing.

Empowering LGBTQ+ youth with tools for resilience. (s/f). ETR Blog. https://www.etr.org/blog/empowering-lgbtq-youth-with-tools-for-resilience/

(S/f-a). Americanprogress.org. https://www.americanprogress.org/article/discrimination-and-barriers-to-well-being-the-state-of-the-lgbtqi-community-in-2022/

(S/f-b). Sciencedirect.com. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/minority-stress-model

(S/f-c). Mcleanhospital.org. https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/lgbtq-mh#:~:text=These%20conditions%20can%20have%20detrimental,to%20the%20American%20Psychiatric%20Association.

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