Mental Health and Wellbeing in the LGBTQ Community
Every year, Pride celebrations across the world mark another steppingstone towards LGBTQ equality. But this year holds particular historical significance, as 2019 commemorates the 50-year anniversary of Stonewall.
The Stonewall Riots were a fundamental turning point against the legal oppression upon the rights of LGBTQ people. And while the world has since seen progression, it is clear that we still have a long way to go.
Like hundreds of thousands of people across the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people will experience mental health challenges and distress during their lifetime. But the evidence suggests that there are trends which indicate that those who face social exclusion and discrimination are at a higher risk of serious, long-term mental health issues.
Statistics around LGBTQ Mental Health
The Stonewall charity was set up in 1989. It continues to offer support, information and advice surrounding the social exclusion of the LGBTQ community. Their website outlines significant findings from the LGBTQ health in Britain report*, which was published in 2018.
Key findings from the report suggest that in the last year, over half of LGBTQ people (52%) have experienced depression, and 13% of LGBTQ people aged 18-24 have attempted suicide. Just as alarmingly, 46% of people within the trans community alone have had suicidal thoughts in the past year.
The report also goes on to look at the trends of drug and alcohol abuse related to mental health coping strategies, and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ people in sectors such as the healthcare industry.
Download the full report
While the UK government reports progress for LGBTQ rights, the underlying issues related to social exclusion and discrimination within the community are still prominent. In 2017, the British government conducted a survey* in which 108,000 people from the LGBTQ community took part, making it “the largest national survey to date of LGBTQ people anywhere in the world.”
The report states that, “Despite [-] progress on legal entitlements, research and evidence has continued to suggest that LGBTQ people face discrimination, bullying and harassment in education, at work and on the streets, hate crime and higher inequalities in health satisfaction and outcomes.”
A full breakdown of findings can be found here
Mental Health and LGBTQ Youth
Worryingly, this sort of discrimination and marginalisation is significantly affecting LGBTQ youth. The Guardian published an article* in Dec 2018, which discusses a study that concluded high levels of depression among LGBTQ teenagers. The study indicates that young people (16-21yrs) who identify as LGBTQ are four times more likely to experience depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
Unsurprisingly, these statistics can be alarming for parents, guardians and teachers who care for, love and work with young people. Fears for the safety of their children/students, and/or knowing how to talk to and help them can be overwhelming, particularly if they notice signs of depression and anxiety.
Advice for Parents
Parents and those caring for the wellbeing of young people are encouraged to let them know they are loved and that they are safe to talk. Encouraging dialogue could be a lifeline for young people facing mental health issues, particularly those who might identify as LGBTQ. Noticing signs of bullying (social withdrawal, frequent loss or damage of belongings, injuries, reluctance to attend school, or problems with eating and sleeping) could also help prevent issues escalating further.
Most importantly, nobody has to be alone when it comes to mental health. If you or your child are experiencing mental health issues, ask for help from a professional. And, if you’re not sure where to start, we are more than happy to offer advice and support.
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