This June, L.A. CADA continues to celebrate Pride Month and recovery. People, those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer – about 7% of the U.S. population – are at least twice as likely to have mental health challenges as compared to the general population. LGBTQ+ people are a sexual minority, and minorities have different life experiences than those in the majority population.
People in the sexual minority have unique stressors that are not part of the heterosexual experience. For example, a gay man may worry that others will treat him poorly or that he’ll get fired if he talks about his spouse at work, whereas a person who is heterosexual doesn’t need to worry about discrimination or bias if they reveal their partner’s gender.
Individuals who are part of the sexual minority usually have a constant undercurrent of stress because they can’t escape the subtle (and not so subtle) attitudes and behaviors of others. Like other minority groups, the LGBTQ+ community experiences ongoing discrimination and bias that affects nearly all aspects of their lives, including widespread homophobia, stigmatization, and violence.
When stress is inappropriately managed, it can lead to health problems and unhealthy behaviors – and this is true for anyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race or ethnicity. Minority stress and the life experiences of marginalized populations increase the likelihood of mental health concerns in people who identify as LGBTQ+. People in this underserved community often lack the support systems needed to help manage their stress and emotions. Plus, many behaviors used to protect themselves often have the opposite effect, for example alcohol use and substance use disorders or building up walls to avoid rejection. Always being on the defensive can increase feelings of stress, depression, anxiety and fatigue. It also robs you of the chance to make connections that could help you live a happy, healthy life. In fact, identifying as LGBTQ+ makes it much more likely that you will consider, plan or attempt suicide. Suicidal behaviors of LGBTQ+ people of all ages, races and ethnicities are 3-6 times greater than those among their heterosexual peers. LGBTQ+ youth are about four times more likely to try suicide than their heterosexual peers. The Trevor Project survey found that 45% of LGBTQ+ youth have seriously considered suicide in the last year and 14% tried to do it.
Don’t suffer alone. LA. CADA is a safe, LGBTQ+ Affirming agency. If you know someone who wants support, call us at (562) 906-2676.
Watch: Coming Out and Opening Up