While people from all walks of life experience depression, 30% to 60% of members of the LGBTQ+ community suffer from increased anxiety and depression. From bullying or fears about coming out, to the additional complications of finding love as a sexual minority group, there is a mental health crisis associated with this community.
What Are Sexual Minorities?
Sexual minorities are defined into two categories. The first category is people who define themselves as minorities based on sexuality. They could be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer. The second group identifies themselves as sexual minorities based on gender. They are transgender, genderqueer, or non-binary, such as those who use unconventional pronouns or undergo gender reassignment treatment.
What Are Some Extra Stresses in the LBGTQ+ Community?
Many individuals who are in these minority groups struggle to “come out” during their younger years or may struggle with even accepting their sexuality and gender themselves. This causes tremendous stress and anxiety starting at a young age. People who are raised in strict religious homes may even fear being sent into so-called “conversion therapy” where they are taught that their sexuality is wrong or sinful.
Adolescence is hard enough when you’re straight or cisgender. While today’s younger generations seem to be more accepting of sexuality and gender identity, youth are still frequently subjected to bullying, particularly males. The pressure of having to hide who you are on top of the usual teen and young adult issues creates a situation full of anxiety and tension.
Also, the members of the LBGTQ+ community often can’t openly seek romantic relationships and may feel they are unworthy of love. This compounds anxiety and can lead to depression with tragic results. LBGTQ+ youth are so vulnerable, the Trevor Project was formed in 1998 as a resource to help prevent suicide among sexual minority youth.
What About Sexual Minority Problems for the Older Generations?
Older individuals seem to have an easier time or more confidence in “coming out.” Perhaps there is a part of them that grows tired of carrying that extra burden of stress and depression that goes along with keeping your true identity secret. If you can muster the courage to be open about your sexuality and gender differences in society, you can find like-minded individuals that can help give you support.
With popular culture icons emerging in the LBGTQ+ community, people are becoming more educated and more accepting of differences, but there is still a long way to go as there is still a problem with sexual minority violence. You have stars like Bruce Jenner transforming into Caitlin Jenner and supporting the transgender community. Lesbian talk show host Ellen Degeneres and Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon are leading the way by being open about their sexuality and being accepted in mainstream pop culture. Drag queen RuPaul has her reality show centered in that world and we even have a shows called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”
That doesn’t mean the sexual minority doesn’t face continued assaults on their freedom and acceptance. Gay marriage may have been legalized but still faces many assaults on their sexual freedom.
How to Find Help
The Trevor Project has a hotline that is specifically geared to the sexual minority community under 25 years old. If you are experiencing suicidal ideation, please call them at (866) 488-7386. They’ve expanded beyond the suicide crisis helpline to offer many services for LBGTQ+ youth. They sponsor the Trevor Lifeguard Workshop to help train educators to assist youth at risk for suicide because of their sexual minority status. They also provide Trevor CARE training to adults who want to help. The CARE acronym stands for Connect, Accept, Respond, and Empower. They’ve expanded support from the higher range ages through their LBGTQ on Campus project to Step-in, Speak-Up aimed at grades six-12. They provide additional training resources for educators and a handbook aimed at high-risk youth.
Older members of sexual minority groups may need help as well with coming out and coping with their sexuality or gender issues. The Human Rights Campaign provides resources to help you navigate the stressful waters of coming out and living openly no matter what your age.
Mainstream culture has become more accepting of sexual minorities and the LBGTQ+ community in popular culture, but they still face added stress and depression from the pressures of coming out and living an open life. There are therapists who are LBGTQ-friendly or understand the unique difficulties in coming out no matter your age. It’s never too late to live your life openly and it’s a choice you make every day, not a one-time event. By becoming more understanding of this minority population and providing more resources, we can help lower the suicide rate and help you live free of depression and anxiety. At Everlast Recovery Center, we treat mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression along with substance abuse disorders. At our Riverside, California facility we offer counseling and therapy sessions as well as unconventional holistic therapies that can help you cope with the extra stress and anxiety that can come with being in the LGBTQ+ community or other minority groups. You can learn to be yourself in our home-like environment complete with home-cooked meals and a low staff-to-resident ratio. You suffered long enough. It’s time to get the help you need and get your life back on track. Call us today and learn how we can help at 866-DETOX-25, (866-338-6925).