A Rainbow of Emotions, Mental Health in the LGBTQ Community
BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|
We are commemorating Pride Month, a time that invites us to celebrate love regardless of the conditions in how we give it to others. We must take advantage of this month to highlight the stigmatization that exist against this community and how this generates problems in their emotional well-being.
To begin with, many will see the acronym LGBTQ and will ask what it means. Well, according to the Connecticut Clearinghouse, “the term “gay” has traditionally been used to represent a diverse group or people who are attracted to people of the same gender or are in a relationship with someone of the same gender. It is important, however, to recognize that different groups within the gay community exist, and that the term “gay” is not all-inclusive.” Among the LGBTQ community groups there are: Heterosexual, Homosexual, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Transvestites, Transsexuals, Bigender, Transgenderist  .
According to Gallup, 10 million American adults identify as LGBT (4.1%), LGBT millennials up from 5.8% in 2012 to 7.3% in 2016 and LGBT identification higher among women  . These figures are striking, but do we know how mental health is among this population?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that the members of this community are at a higher risk for experiencing mental health conditions, especially depression and anxiety disorders. For example, LGBT adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition, transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender  individuals are  to experience a mental health condition . It is worth noting the definition of cisgender that, according to the Merriam Webster “is a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth”.
We can see this reflected in a survey  by the Pew Research Center, where 40% of LGBT adults have experienced rejection from a family member or close friend; 30% say they have been physically attacked or threatened; 29% say they have been made to feel unwelcome in a place of worship; and 21% say they have been treated unfairly by an employer.
Age does not matter when suffering from this stigmatization. The 2019 National School Climate Survey  shows that 59.1% of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, 42.5% because of their gender expression, and 37.4% because their gender; 32.7% of LGBTQ students missed at least one entire day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, 8.6% missed four or more days in the past month, and 95.2% of LGBTQ students heard different types of homophobic remarks.
These figures show the risk that the LGBT community has for mental health problems, caused by such events as Coming Out, rejection, trauma, substance use, homelessness, suicide, inadequate mental health care, etc  . According to HealthPartners  , people in the LGBTQ community experience mental health issues at higher rates. For example, 61% have depression, 45% have PTSD and 36% have anxiety disorder. Additionally, 40% of transgender individuals have attempted suicide in their lifetime; this is nearly 9 times the overall suicide rate in the United States.
On the other hand, “coming out is a constant internal and external process that can sometimes be met with pain, misunderstanding, and hardship. Members of the LGBTQ population “come out” in many different ways to many different groups”, that’s why some risks of Coming Out are that not everyone will be understanding or accepting the situation, students may lose their financial support for school from their parent or guardian, some relationships with friends, family members, or co-workers may be permanently changed in negative ways, etc. In addition, some benefits of Coming Out are that individuals will have the ability to live their lives openly, individuals may develop closer, more genuine relationships with new friends and family, and some relationships may be changed permanently in positive ways  .
However, it is time to accept, move forward and love one another. Reina Gatusso  mentions 6 ways to support the mental health of your LGBTQ loved ones: Question your Biases, respect their identity, don’t “out” them without their permission, have their back, support them in accessing mental health resources and donate to organizations that support this community.
We live in a world where love has as many colors as the rainbow, we just have to tolerate and accept that each person shares it in their own way. However, if you are part of the LGBTQ community and have problems with your emotional well-being, remember that you are not alone; the whole Neighbors’ Consejo team is ready to love you, and to support you in your acceptance and social coping process.