A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Benefits of a LBGTQ Therapist and 3 Tips for Coming Out because LGBTQ individuals experience specific mental health issues, especially in more rural areas. Today I would like to expound. These issues are often related to minority stress (stress that comes from being a member of a minority community). For example, the prejudice and stigma that LGBTQ individuals often face can lead to higher suicide rates and increased substance use. LGBTQ individual are about 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts. Twenty to thirty percent of LGBTQ individuals are likely to abuse substances to deal with anxiety and depression compared to nine percent of the rest of the population. These are significant numbers and we need to do all we can to address the specific issues facing LGBTQ individuals. It is also helpful to remember that many LGBTQ individual experience anxiety and depression (and other issues) not related to their sexuality or gender.
Many LGBTQ individuals, especially young adults are also at a higher risk of homelessness. Often young adults and teenagers are kicked out of their homes when they come out as gay or trans. Being homeless in turn increases risk for mental health issues. Many LGBTQ adolescents are also at a higher risk for bullying in schools. It is extremely important for schools and families to be supportive and accepting of LGBTQ youth. Positive support for young LGBTQ individuals can significantly reduce future risk for mental health issues and substance use. If you are LGBTQ and feel like you have no support around around you, please feel free to email me, Sean@WellspringRenewalCenter.com or reach out to our office to schedule an appointment. We would be more than happy to be the support you need. Remember you are NOT alone in this, but you might have to take the first step to getting some support.
Fortunately, there are more and more resources that support LGBTQ mental health. Here is a list of a few (taken from the NAMI website):
http://www.algbtic.org/ -The Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling offers a list of resources for LGBT individuals and works to educate counseling professionals on LGBT issues.
http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org/ -The GLBT National Help Center provides multiple resources and access to a hotline and a youth chat line.
https://www.glsen.org/ -GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) provides an annual report called the National School Climate Survey, which reports on the experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in U.S. schools.
https://www.thetrevorproject.org -The Trevor Project is a multimedia support network for LGBTQ youth providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
Some local resources are:
http://www.artranscoalition.org/ -The Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition
http://www.luciesplace.org/ -Lucie’s Place, homeless shelter for LGBTQ young adults in Little Rock