Maintaining a positive self-image and strong mental health can be challenging for anyone. However, members of the LGTBQ community often find that their mental health challenges are compounded by their orientation. If you are struggling to determine your sexual identity or facing discrimination for your sexual orientation, studies suggest that you may be more at risk for developing a mental illness than your heterosexual counterpart. In my work as an online counselor, I have worked with several members of the LGTBQ community. This week, I am working to raise awareness of the challenges these individuals face.
Mental Health & The LGTBQ Community: Quick Stats
Individuals who identify as a part of the LGTBQ community often face a variety of unique mental health struggles. The numbers from the National Alliance on Mental Health speak for themselves:
- LGTBQ individuals are almost 3 times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for LGTBQ people ages 10-24.
- LGTBQ youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, or engage in self-harm than straight people.
- Approximately 20-30% of LGBTQ people abuse substances, compared to about 9% of the general population.
- GBTQ teens are 6 times more likely to experience symptoms of depression than the general population.
Double The Stigma, Double The Consequences
I talk frequently about the stigma surrounding mental health issues and the damage it causes. People battling with mental illness are often afraid of the judgment they may face if they open up about their problems, which causes them to struggle silently. When their struggles remain unaddressed, untreated, and unsupported for long enough, it can drive them to self-harm, suicide, or other heart-wrenching consequences.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where many members of the LGTBQ community face these same fears simply for their sexual orientation. Many LGTBQ people are scared to open up to their teachers, friends, parents, siblings, or other family members about their sexual orientation because they are afraid of the judgment and/or humiliation they may face.
LGTBQ who keep their sexual identity hidden often feel isolated and alone. Similarly, individuals struggling to identify their sexual preferences may be scared to talk to people about the internal challenges they’re facing. When allowed to continue, at a certain point this internal strife may lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
Our World Is Not Yet Equal
The fact that significant progress has been made towards acceptance of our LGTBQ community is indisputable. While gay marriage is now legal throughout the States and hearing about gay couples is not particularly uncommon anymore, stigma and prejudice is still rampant among families, workplaces, and friend groups.
Just as I work diligently to end the stigma of mental illness, I am passionate about letting LGTBQ community know that they are accepted, loved, understood, and supported. I assure you, you are not alone in your struggles. I have experience working with multiple LGTBQ people or individuals who are questioning their identity. My goal is to help these individuals identify and express their true selves in today’s society. I put a special emphasis on self-reflection and being true to oneself, regardless of the potential consequences. At the end of the day, YOU are all that matters. YOU are enough.
Contact Me To Get Started
If you or someone you know is currently struggling with sexual identity or the social repercussions of your orientation, I would be honored and humbled if you would reach out to me. Give me a call at (248) 730-5544 or visit me online to begin the process.
Samantha M. Ruth, Transformational Psychologist
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