LGTBQ Mental Health
In the past few decades, there has been a dramatic emergence of public awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender queer/questioning(LGBTQ) issues. This group represents those whose sex or gender identity labels as personally meaningful to them and have complex gender or sexual identities. LGBTQ mental health is one area that is discussed, especially among the youths who find it difficult to live in contemporary society. These individuals have to deal with harassment, threats, and violence directed at them in school or the workplace (Mental Health America, 2022). Additionally, these individuals are at increased risk of adverse health outcomes compared to monosexual individuals. Addressing the mental health issues associated with LGBTQ individuals can ensure they exercise their freedom of living without fear and with equality.
The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5) articulates explicitly that gender non-conformity is not a mental disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). However, gender dysphoria is characterized by marked incongruence between one’s expressed gender, and assigned gender may be present in transgender individuals. During the transition, the youths may find it difficult to deal with their sexual states and experience anxiety and depression. One of the explanations for this phenomenon is the minority stress theory which posts that stigmatization including victimization, prejudice, and discrimination causes mental health issues (Russell & Fish, 2016). During adolescence, most LGBTQ individuals report stronger prejudicial attitudes and more strong homophobic behavior. It is not until older ages that the majority get the courage to make more sophisticated evaluative judgments regarding their rights and prejudice.
LGBTQ individuals are more than twice likely to have a mental health disorder in their lifetime compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Among the common mental health issues observed include depression, anxiety, and substance misuse (Russell & Fish, 2016). Adolescence remains the most difficult time for LGBTQ individuals because it is the time they interact with their peers and experience gender identity. For instance, recent data indicates that 10% of adolescents suffer from a mood disorder, 25% from an anxiety disorder, and 8.3% opt to use drugs (Russell & Fish, 2016). Apart from these issues, one of the key mental health challenges is self-harm and suicide for the LGBTQ group. With each instance of physical or verbal harassment, these individuals are twice or more likely to self-harm and four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts (Mental Health America, 2022).
The advocacy group that I will like to be part of to address the challenge of mental health in the LGBTQ is the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) (Link: https://www.hrc.org/). This advocacy group envisions a world where every member of the LGBTQ community has the freedom to live without fear and with equality under the law. The group has over 3 million members fighting for an equal society and helping the LGBTQ in ways they can (Human Rights Campaign, 2022). The reason this topic is important to me is that the LGBTQ community experiences more hurdles in caring for their mental health. They are at increased risk of depression and anxiety alongside other mental health issues. Because of the stigma that surrounds mental illness, LGBTQ individuals have extra challenges that can keep them from seeking help. The use of advocacy groups like HRC can be an important step towards promoting mental health for LGBTQ individuals.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Human Rights Campaign. (2022). About: Leading the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. https://www.hrc.org/about
Mental Health America. (2022). Bullying: LGBT youth. https://www.mhanational.org/bullying-lgbt-youth
Russell, S. T., & Fish, J. N. (2016). Mental health in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 12, 465–487. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-021815-093153
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