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Anxiety in the Gay Community

The mental health struggles of LGBTI individuals

This page was added 8th December 2017

For the best part, most Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) people experience happy, healthy, fulfilling lives. However, many recent studies have found that LGBTI people face up to twice as much abuse or violence than their heterosexual counterparts, this includes physical, mental, sexual or emotional abuse. This research has identified that this discrimination and abuse adds another layer of potential risk on top of already existing biological, social, environmental and psychological factors which can lead to the development of depression, anxiety and ultimately suicide. This research is supported by results indicating that LGBTI people have a greater risk of developing depression and anxiety, substance abuse, self-harming and suicidal thoughts. In fact, it has been found that up to 60% of LGBTI people deal with anxiety and depression at some point of their lives. That equates to a rate that is up to 2.5 times higher than that of their heterosexual counterparts.

These figures are alarmingly high, which raises a lot of questions. While the entire answer is extremely complex, it has been found that there are common issues that LGBTI people face that have been found to affect their mental health, including:

  • Discrimination and oppression at work or school
  • Stress and anxiety based around coming out to friends and family members
  • The struggle to identify your “true” self despite social expectations
  • The anticipation of potential discrimination or harassment even in situations where it hasn’t occurred yet.
However, it should also be noted that that these outside factors are not the only issues causing anxiety in the LGBTI community with self-hatred, insecurities and internalised homophobia being quite common. This is supported by a 2003 study which found that internalised homophobia accounted for 13% of the variance in anxiety scores.

If you are a member of the LGBTI community and experiencing depression and anxiety, substance abuse, self-harming and suicidal thoughts, it is important that you seek help and find a good therapist to help you in your journey to recovery. This is a little easier today than it was in the past with the ethics of professions related to mental health, such as social work, psychology, psychiatry and counselling, requiring therapists to provide services to all people without discrimination.

Some therapists may have more experience in dealing with the specific needs of the LGBTI community. Therefore, there are several factors you may wish to consider when seeking therapy:

Similar experience: Finding a therapist who is also homosexual or transgender will share a real-life experience similar to your own and could possibly provide you with more extensive assistance.

Professional focus: Many therapists focus their energy on specific areas. Finding a therapist or service that specialise in the anxieties of the LGBTI community may be able to provide you with more appropriate options as you progress though therapy.

The services of therapists view on reparation or conversion therapy: Many years ago, the mental health community operated with a misguided notion that homosexuality concerns were mental health disorders.

It was very common during this period, to find therapists who focused on “fixing” what they considered to be “improper” romantic attractions. In more recent times this practice is highly discouraged, however, it’s still good to be aware of this so you don’t find yourself working with a therapist who has different intentions than yourself.

It should be noted that anxiety tends to arise in the LGBTI community due to environmental factors that surround you, basis is not a result of there being anything wrong with you. Seeking appropriate therapy can help you understand and cope with these factors and improve your daily life.

Written by Kelly, ADAVIC Volunteer


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