June is Pride Month. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally. LQBTQ+ individuals have been fighting to fit into their communities and be accepted by all for years. The stigma associated with the LGBTQ+ and the mental health community is no different. Research has shown that the LGBTQ+ community is less likely to seek treatment for an eating disorder, a mental health disorder, or a substance abuse disorder due to fear of rejection and discrimination.
Mental health treatment in the LGBTQ+ community
Common barriers to treatment in the LGBTQ+ community include a lack of culturally-competent treatment, which addresses the complexity of unique sexuality and gender identity issues, lack of support from family and friends, and insufficient eating disorder education among LGBTQ+ resource providers who are in a position to detect and intervene. In the 1950s and 60s, many psychiatrists believed that homosexuality, as well as bisexuality, was a mental illness. Gay men and lesbians were often subjected to treatment against their will, including forced hospitalizations, aversion therapy, and electroshock therapy. Significant strides have been made since then, and many therapists and physicians today have positive and accepting attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community. However, there are still many in this community who still face unequal care due to a lack of training and/or understanding.
LGBTQ+ mental health statistics
- Among all U.S. adults aged 18 and over, 96.6% identify as straight, 1.6% as gay or lesbian, 0.7% as bisexual, and the remaining 1.1% as “something else.”
- LGBTQ+ individuals are much more likely to experience eating disorders.
- 38-65% of transgender individuals experience suicidal ideation.
- An estimated 20-30% of LGBT individuals abuse substances, compared to about 9% of the general population. 25% of LGBT individuals abuse alcohol, compared to 5-10% of the general population.
- Approximately 8 percent of LGBT individuals and nearly 27 percent of transgender individuals report being denied needed health care outright.
- More than 1 in 5 LGBT individuals reported withholding information about their sexual practices from their doctor or another health care professional.
- LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, and engage in self-harm, as compared to straight youths.
- LGBTQ individuals are almost three times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder.
- Among males who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay.
- Gay males were seven times more likely to report binging and 12 times more likely to report purging than heterosexual males.
- The LGBTQ community is at a higher risk for suicide because they lack peer support and face harassment, mental health conditions, and substance abuse.
- Compared with heterosexual men, gay and bisexual men had a significantly higher prevalence of lifetime full syndrome bulimia, subclinical bulimia, and any subclinical eating disorder.
- 25% of LGBT people abuse alcohol, compared to 5-10% of the general population.
- An estimated 20-30% of LGBTQ people abuse substances, compared to about 9% of the general population.
- Females identified as lesbian, bisexual, or mostly heterosexual were about twice as likely to report binge eating at least once per month in the last year.
- A research study found that the average age for eating disorders in the LGBT community is 19 years old compared to the national average, which is 12-13 years old.
- The LGBT community is at a higher risk of bullying and has even been the center points for violent attacks.
Knowing the stats isn’t enough. We can all take action to offer our support, acceptance and affirmation towards the LGBTQ+ individuals in our lives. Whether we are parents, friends, or healthcare providers, we can all play a part in supporting the LGBTQ+ community with our words and with our actions.
June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pride Month (LGBTQ+ Pride Month) is celebrated annually in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots and works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) Americans.
Awareness events and celebrations will take place all over the United States and include Pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts. This particular month attracts visitors from across the globe to take place in the celebrations. Memorials are also held during this awareness month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.
Whether you choose to celebrate with others or alone, you can honor and acknowledge the struggles of those who have come before you. And if you are struggling, you are not alone. Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program has been helping individuals overcome mental health challenges since 1997 and we are here to help. Reach out at any time to learn more about our programs.