When it comes to the topic of sexual minorities, our outlook as a society has progressed and improved over time. But there is still plenty of stigma and discrimination being propagated all around us, and it has a negative impact on the mental health of this particular group. Here is what you need to know on the topic.
Mental Health in the LGBTQIA+ Community
Unfortunately, mental illness is not uncommon in the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexuality, and all other sexualities) community. Statistics quoted by The Guardian uncovered that queer youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers. What is more, more than 50% of transgender individuals struggle with depression and anxiety.
All in all, gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons are also far more likely to develop a mental health disorder in general. The underlying causes of this difference are discrimination and isolation. Even though our society has come a long way in understanding and accepting the LGBTQIA+ community, there is still a long way to go.
According to a 2016 study, many critical gaps in knowledge still exist, and they prevent policies and programs of clinical care from being successful. Stigma is still something that affects the lives of sexual minorities, and this happens all over the globe. In addition, most of the available research is focused on the Western world, where progress has been a lot more vigorous.
But even in the United States, the LGBTQIA+ community is faced with rejection, hate, and even violence. It is safer now than ever for sexual minorities to come out, and yet a heavy and threatening atmosphere still hangs around this topic. If this is what protection feels like, then we certainly have more advocacy and education to do.
Moreover, the discussion on the mental health of sexual minorities concerns another relevant topic, namely that of relationships within the community. How does this issue affect the creation of romantic bonds between same-sex, trans, gender fluid, or queer individuals? The spectrum is a lot wider than even that, which means that the topic is an intricate one.
How These Factors Impact Relationships
It has been established that poor mental health is common among members of the LGBTQIA+ community. This is yet another obstacle in the way of developing healthy bonds between individuals belonging to various sexual minorities. Not only is this still a taboo topic, but the sensitive nature of mental health disorders can also be an issue.
Still, the research conducted in this area is promisingly optimistic. A study described by Psychology Today has shown two major benefits. First, gay and lesbian youth found the time they were engaged in romantic relationships to be less distressing to their overall psychological well-being than the times without romantic involvement.
African American and Latino members of the LGBTQIA+ community especially benefited from romantic involvement, as it helped take the edge away from being both a racial and a sexual minority. What is more, the same study has shown that being involved amorously with someone softened the blow of being discriminated against.
Together, these two benefits offer a hopeful prospect for LGBTQIA+ youth. However, some of the groups under that umbrella did not benefit from the same overall state of happiness and wellbeing that a relationship brings. One main concern the study uncovered was regarding bisexual people, who exhibited more psychological distress during the time they were committed to a partner.
Although the causes behind this are unclear, they might be related to the extensive discrimination faced by bisexual individuals. The stigma in their case comes from two directions. There are straight oppressors who disregard or dismiss their orientation as a phase, but there is also a segment within the LGBTQIA+ community, which does the same thing.
A similar situation is faced by the transgender members of the community. Within the group of sexual minorities, there is a percentage of cisgender (personal identity and gender that correspond to birth sex) gay and lesbian men and women who consider themselves as the standard and disregard the existence of others. Of course, this problem is not as common as straight hate, but it is still a serious concern for these minorities.
The Bottom Line
The conversation on mental health in the LGBTQIA+ community is just now gaining momentum. However, there is still much discrimination, which affects the lives and romantic relationships of sexual minorities. In order to put an end to this, it is the duty of each and every one of us to educate ourselves on the topic and become true and worthy allies.
Author Bio: Alex Moore is a psychology undergraduate and ardent advocate of the power of motivation. You’ll usually find him writing for www.schizlife.com, where he tries to help people overcome every obstacle with both mind and body.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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