Mental Health Challenges Affecting the LGBTQ+ Community

Written by Phil Payne

September 4, 2020

September is Suicide Prevention Month and I wanted to shine a light on the LGBTQ+ community, the additional stressors they face, the challenges for acceptance, and how mental health is adversely impacting a large group. First, I want to make abundantly clear that myself and Apportis are Allies to the LGBTQ+ community, we want to lift up not just queer voices but black queer voices, queer sex workers’ voices, and impoverished trans people’s voices, among other identities let’s celebrate and support each other.

  • Here are some frightening statistics that give some perspective (pre-pandemic) of the the challenges this community faces:
  • 40% of LGBT adults have experienced rejection from a family member or a close friend.
  • LGBTQ+ youth are also disproportionately harassed at school, both physically and verbally, which can significantly impact their mental health.
  • May face rejection within their workplace or faith community (erosion of support).
  • LGB adults are nearly twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a substance use disorder.
  • Transgender individuals are almost four times as likely as cisgender individuals to experience a substance use disorder.
  • LGBTQ youth and young adults have a 120% higher risk of experiencing homelessness
  • High school students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers.
  • 40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide in their lifetime, compared to less than 5% of the general U.S. population.

Being LGBTIQ+ does not cause these problems. The reasons why those of us with LGBTIQ+ identities are more likely to get them are very complicated. But it is most likely to do with facing things like:

  • Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
  • Stigma and discrimination
  • Difficult experiences of coming out
  • Social isolation, exclusion and rejection

I certainly wish I could wave a magic wand and fix the ills of our society, have everyone embrace acceptance rather than division, provide love and understanding rather than hate, and always look for the common greatness in each of us rather than scorn and fear. Alas, I cannot. I also can never fully understand all of the challenges my friends have faced, the struggle in their journeys to actualize on their gender identity, and the obstacles that they have had to overcome and still face on a daily basis. I however can proudly stand alongside them and support them.

For those interested in being a more supportive voice, and ally to the LGTQ+ community, here is an excellent article for you, the ally: https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/6/22/18700875/lgbtq-good-ally

I won’t be presumptive to say that myself or Apportis the answers, but in a month that sheds light on suicide, and the common factors that cut short the lives of talented and loving people… our neighbors, the best that I can do is show you some facts and provide some resources.

Please take care of yourself, you are loved and you matter.

Here are is a long list of resources provided by SAMHSA for the LGBTQ+ community:https://www.samhsa.gov/behavioral-health-equity/lgbt

More data points on the Mental Health Factors in the LGBTQ+ community, provided by the Human Rights Campaign:https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/LGBTQ_MentalHealth_OnePager.pdf

Resources provided by the CDC:https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/index.htm

And please remember – ‘Think of the most vulnerable person you know and vote in their best interests.’

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