Mental Health and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community
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It’s hard enough coming out when they are accepting and sharing that they have mental health issues, but when they are adding their struggles issues around their sexual identity I have found people all experience coming out even harder when faced with prejudice and discrimination as part of a minority.
Don’t get me wrong, being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender does not in itself lead to mental issues. However, members of the community have higher instances of mental problems. The National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) carried out a review of mental issues in the LGBT community and their report found the following:
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender are at more risk of suicidal behaviour and self-harm than straights.
- Gay and bisexual men are four times more likely to commit suicide.
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are 1½ times more likely to develop depression and anxiety compared to the rest of the population.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender are also susceptible to facing additional issues that can have an impact on their health and well-being.
Discrimination and bullying
More than half of younger LGBT people experience homophobic bullying in Britain’s schools. Nearly half of pupils who experience homophobic bullying have symptoms of depression, and one in six lesbian, gay or bisexual adults has experienced homophobic hate crimes or a related incident in the last 3 years.
A recent survey showed that the community also faces an increased likelihood of additional discrimination in the workplace that can lead to stress and depression. The survey found that:
- 52% of the participants had experienced problems with work due to being trans or having a trans history,
- 19% had experienced discrimination, and
- 7% had left a job due to harassment or discrimination even though they had no other job to go.
Coming out for the first time can be exciting and liberating, or very difficult. It could be a combination of the two, a one-off or a series of events. If you come out and experience rejection, you may not want to come out again. You may feel that you must hide your true self which in turn affects your health and well-being and cause stress, and the trauma can lead to destructive behaviors such as addiction, unhelpful thinking patterns and irrational behaviour.
The Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community often experiences homophobia or transphobia. When discriminated against, you may turn these feelings inwards. You could develop negative feelings towards your own sexuality or gender identity because of this. This can make it difficult for you to accept your own sexual orientation or gender identity.
So where can someone go for help and support with their mental health & well-being?
Having a mental problem is not something only a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience. However, if you or someone you know might be struggling then it is important to seek help. You don’t have to struggle alone. Here are some suggestions about where to get support:
In some areas, there are organisations that provide advice and support. This might be through a counselling service, support groups, mentoring or a helpline. You can find local services by searching online for organisations in your area.
General mental health services
Going to see your GP is the main way to get support and treatment for mental issues. You may have had problems accessing healthcare. However, there are steps being taken to improve things. In the UK, the government brought in the NHS Constitution. This says that we all have the right ‘not to be unlawfully discriminated against in the provision of NHS services.’ This includes sexual orientation and gender reassignment.21 All NHS services must comply with this principle.
Some NHS trusts have published their own guides for medical professionals. There is a project in Manchester called ‘Pride in Practice’, this is a service that GP surgeries can sign up for. It offers surgeries support to become LGBT friendly and inclusive. The Foundation runs the project with support from the Royal College of General Practitioners. GPs can call the Foundation helpline and get advice for supporting patients.
There are many organisations offering emotional and practical support. National relationship counselling service Relate offers relationship counselling through some of its local services. There may be social groups, sports clubs or activities in your area that you could become involved in. There are services for younger people that can help with advice, support and meeting other LGBT people.
1:1 therapy and counselling (in-person and online)
We have worked with clients in our local community, from being single to being married with children, separated and someone who felt they were not gay but believed to be a woman trapped in a man’s body and wanting a sex change. For a free impartial, non-judgmental consultation, don’t struggle alone, get in touch with us. For those suffering from extreme anxiety and depression, online counselling may be right for you—offering the relative anonymity of not having to travel to a clinic.
To find out more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of mental health issues contact Ian Disley of Mindworks Health and Well-being Services and ask about their ‘Enjoy Your Baby’ classes and Talking Therapy Services. You may contact him directly through his profile here.
Or, **Speak with a doctor online on RingMD.** Why leave home to find a doctor if you don't have to? Avoid sick people in busy waiting rooms and skip the traffic jam. Can you have a doctor appointment online? Yes, consult a doctor online, right now! When appropriate, the doctor is able to provide you with a signed Medical Certificate (MC) if you need one for work or school reasons.
Lastly, if you're a doctor or wellness expert considering offering virtual care services, here are some arguments to consider.