LGBTQ+ mental health, minority stress, mental health challenges, LGBTQ+ community, mental well-being, overcoming stress, mental health strategies
Mental Health

Minority stress and mental health challenges in the LGBTQ+ community

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals are at least twice as probable to experience problems with their mental health as the overall population. It highlights the question of why the LGBTQ+ population has higher issues with mental wellness.

Life experiences play a big part in it. You’ve probably encountered circumstances that were disturbing. Perhaps something was said or done. Or perhaps all it needed was a look to make you feel uncomfortable. The most difficult part, though, was having no one to lean on.

What were your thoughts? Were you feeling stressed, nervous, or lonely? Did you simply want to get out of the situation? Suppose you were continually surrounded by other people’s negative mindsets and actions. Consider the impact on your mental health.

Those who define themselves as LGBTQ+ face distinct and common pressures. LGBTQ+ people have a greater probability of being victims of prejudice, misogyny, and violence. Furthermore, LGBTQ+ people do not always have access to the help and resources they need to enhance their psychological well-being.

For individuals who define themselves as LGBTQ+ and for others who want to help the LGBTQ+ community, HealthPartners aims to be a resource. Continue reading to find out more about minority stress, how it impacts LGBTQ+ individuals with mental disorders, as well as what you can do to assist.

How the LGBTQ+ community is affected by minority stress

The life experiences of minorities differ from those of the mainstream population. But how does this apply to people who identify as LGBTQ+?

What does it mean to be part of the sexual minority?

Oftentimes, when individuals hear the term “minority,” they imagine racial and ethnic minorities. However, there are additional ways to be a minority in the US. The sexual minority includes those who identify as LGBTQ+, according to a Gallup poll from 2022, 7% of American adults do.

What is the model of minority stress?

The minority stress model was established in the early 2000s to assist in understanding the difficult feelings and hardships of marginalized communities. What they uncovered is that minority communities suffer stress in ways that the mainstream population does not. They discovered three fundamental aspects of minority stress:

  1. Minority stress is socially based

Minority stress extends beyond the normal stressors that everyone faces. Minority stress is instead caused by the procedures, establishments, structures, and cognitive processes that presently generate our environment.

Any child, for example, may be anxious about attending high school. However, transgender teens may experience extra anxiety if their school’s technological systems do not enable them to alter their first names or pronouns. Even if educators are aware of calling them by their selected name and pronouns, the adolescent may be afraid that the teacher will make a mistake in class, resulting in physical or mental bullying if their friends know the name and gender they were assigned at birth.

  1. Minority stress is different.

Individuals in the sexual minority face specific stressors that are not shared by heterosexuals. A gay guy, for example, may be concerned that people will perceive him negatively or that he could get dismissed if he discusses his partner at work.

A heterosexual individual may be concerned that people dislike their spouse, but if they share their spouse’s gender, they are safe from rejection or bias.

  1. Minority stress is a chronic

Because they are unable to get away from the subtle and not-so-subtle behaviors and mindsets of others, those who identify as sexual minorities typically experience a persistent undertone of stress.

The LGBTQ+ community, including other minority groups, is subjected to persistent prejudice and discrimination that impacts almost every area of their daily lives. They may also encounter common sexism, homosexuality, and abuse.

According to the Rainbow Health Survey, 64% of Minnesotan individuals who were defined as LGBTQ+ reported having encountered anti-LGBTQ+ behavior in some manner in the previous year. This is a relevant example.

LGBTQ+ individuals of color who experience minority stress

The fact that people of color who define themselves as LGBTQ+ can face discrimination due to their ethnic background, gender identity, and/or sexuality may explain why these individuals have greater levels of minority stress.

Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) who are defined as LGBTQ+ reported 79% of anti-LGBTQ+ behavior in Minnesota. And more than half reported experiencing physical assault or threats because they were classified as LGBTQ+ in the year prior to the Rainbow Health survey.

Why does minority stress cause psychological issues in the LGBTQ+ community?

When stress isn’t handled correctly, it may give rise to medical issues and negative behaviors in everyone, regardless of their sexuality, gender identity, race, or nationality. However, traits of minority stress and marginalized communities’ life experiences enhance the incidence of psychological difficulties in those who identify as LGBTQ+.

Those who define themselves as LGBTQ+ may lack the necessary support structures to assist them in handling their feelings and stress. Furthermore, the behaviors people adopt to protect themselves frequently have the opposite impact.

When you’re continually under attack, your initial defense is to construct walls and be alert for harm. If you’re scared that someone is going to dislike you, it’s best not to offer them the chance. If each scenario appears frightening, it may feel better to stay at home alone.

The issue is that being constantly on the defensive may increase emotions of stress, despair, worry, and exhaustion. It also prevents you from making relationships that might assist you to enjoy a life of joy and wellness.

It can even prevent persons who are considered LGBTQ+ from receiving necessary health treatment. According to the Rainbow Health survey, 40% of Minnesota individuals who considered LGBTQ+ failed to go to the doctor when they needed to because they were afraid of being mistreated or harassed. The anxieties are not unfounded, it has not always been simple for members of the LGBTQ+ community to obtain medical treatment that values and detects their gender identity or sexual orientation.

LGBTQ+ mental health statistics

So, how does minority stress affect psychological wellness in the LGBTQ+ community? Some of the figures may surprise you.

Individuals in the LGBTQ+ community are about twice as likely as the overall population to suffer from a mental illness in their entire lives. The transgender community’s mental health is of particular importance, as this population has the greatest rates of depressive disorders, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide.

Anxiety disorders in the LGBTQ+ community

Many individuals suffer from worry. According to the Depression and Anxiety Association of America, it is the most frequent psychological problem in the United States, impacting around 1 in every 5 adults.

Anxiety is especially prevalent in the LGBTQ+ community. According to the Rainbow Health survey, two-thirds of Minnesotan persons who define as LGBTQ+ experience stress at least regularly. This figure is significantly higher for BIPOC adults who define themselves as LGBTQ+ – 90% suffer stress on a weekly schedule.

According to the Trevor Project poll, 73% of LGBTQ+ kids suffer from signs of anxiety.

Depression in the LGBTQ+ community

Another major psychological worry in the United States is depressive disorder, which affects 1 in every 20 persons. Depression, like anxiety, is significantly more widespread among the LGBTQ+ community.

According to the Rainbow Health survey, around 75% of Minnesotan people who define as LGBTQ+ experience depression at least two days per week, and approximately 20% have anxiety 5-7 days per week. According to the Trevor Project survey, 58% of LGBTQ+ teens are experiencing signs of depression.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors in the LGBTQ+ community

Suicide is a major worldwide health issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was one of the most prevalent nine major causes of death for individuals aged 10-64 in 2020, and the second greatest cause of death among individuals aged 10-14 or 25-34.

Defining LGBTQ+ raises the likelihood that someone would think, plan, or commit suicide. LGBTQ+ teenagers are almost four times more inclined than heterosexual peers to attempt suicide. According to the Trevor Project poll, 45% of LGBTQ+ teens actively considered suicide in the previous year, and 14% attempted it.

Lesbian, homosexual, and bisexual people are also more inclined than the overall population to think about, plan, or attempt suicide. Suicidal behavior among lesbian, homosexual, and bisexual adults of all ages, races, and ethnicities was 3-6 times higher than among heterosexual counterparts, according to a 2021 study report.

There is an important correlation between psychological health and suicide; approximately 90% of persons who attempt suicide have a minimum of one mental disease.

Substance use disorders in the LGBTQ+ community

A substance use disorder (SUD) occurs when the consumption of drugs or alcohol negatively impacts someone’s body or lifestyle. According to 2020 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) data, approximately 15% of the overall population has a SUD.

SUD is particularly more prevalent among the LGBTQ+ community. According to the SAMHSA, 34% of adults who consider themselves lesbian, gay, or bisexual have a substance use disorder. Furthermore, it is thought that 20-30% of transsexual people have SUD, but a study is underway.

Substance abuse is highly linked to psychological issues, according to SAMHSA data, 70% of LGB persons with a substance use disorder also have mental health problems.

Eating disorders in the LGBTQ+ community

According to the ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), around 9% of the US community will develop an eating disorder over their lives. However, members of the LGBTQ+ community are far more inclined than the overall population to suffer from eating disorders, this is particularly true for males, men, and those who are defined as transgender or gender nonconforming.

  • Boys who are defined as gay or bisexual tend to be more inclined than their heterosexual classmates to engage in weight-controlling activities such as food restriction, self-induced vomiting, chemical misuse, and diet pill use.
  • Gay adult men are nearly seven times more inclined than heterosexual adult men to talk about overeating and twelve times more inclined to describe vomiting.
  • Transgender undergraduate students are around four times as likely as other students to develop an eating disorder. Genderqueer and/or nonconforming gender people have a greater chance of being impacted.

Eating disorders are common in the LGBTQ+ Community for a variety of reasons, including poor body image, gender discrimination, anxiety, and other causes. The Melrose Heals podcast features candid talks about eating problems as well as what you might be able to do to assist.

Ways to help persons who identify as LGBTQ+

Encouragement from relatives, close companions, and the community is vital to the mental well-being of LGBTQ+ persons, it can literally mean the distinction between death and life for some.

According to the Trevor Project poll, LGBTQ+ teens who believe their community is supportive are considerably less likely to attempt suicide than those who believe their community is rejecting or just slightly tolerant.

However, what are the greatest methods to support those who define as LGBTQ+? It can be challenging or uncomfortable. Here are some ideas for being a good friend.

Treat them as you would any other person

If someone shares their hobbies, happiness, difficulties, or interactions, treat them like you would any other individual. Note that defining LGBTQ+ is only one aspect of who they are, possibilities are you’ll have lots more to discuss than gender identity and sexual preference.

Boundaries must be respected

You may be sincere and interested in someone’s life without being nosy. Then, ask broad inquiries and listen. Don’t inquire about someone’s actual name or any medical procedures they’ve taken towards gender affirmation if they identify as transgender.

Use suitable language

Another approach to showing respect is to use suitable language. Follow the person’s lead when it comes to using LGBTQ+ words, and always attempt to represent a person’s vocabulary concerning relationships and status. If you are doubtful, simply ask. Be open to making blunders and trying again without becoming aggressive.

Using selected pronouns is a very essential way to demonstrate support for transgender persons, and it could even save lives. According to a Trevor Project poll, trans kids were just as inclined to think about suicide when their preferred pronouns were used.

But how can you question others about their pronouns in a kind manner? This can be as simple as saying, “My name is Alex, and I use the pronouns she and her.” “How about you?”

It’s also feasible that you already have knowledge of an individual’s pronouns. Many people add their pronouns to their public social media accounts or email signatures.

Continue to learn

Learning about the history of the LGBTQ+ community is a terrific way to express your gratitude. The resources listed below can help you get started.

  • Twin Cities Pride is Dedicated to enhancing the daily lives of LGBTQ+ individuals. The Twin Cities Pride website offers community services as well as a calendar of planned celebrations and activities.
  • The Minnesota People of Color LGBTQ+ Pride Organization Connects persons of color who are defined as LGBTQ+ and grows equality and justice.
  • Gender Spectrum Provides materials and sponsors online support groups for LGBTQ+ children, parents, caretakers, and other relatives.
  • OutFront Minnesota Promotes LGBTQ+ equality in Minnesota through policies and planning, anti-violence campaigns, and equality in education.
  • Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition is Dedicated to increasing trans and gender nonconforming people’s access to high-quality medical services.

What if an individual who is defined as LGBTQ+ appears to be in distress?

Give help in the same manner you would to anyone else. Listening carefully is a great way to begin. As is asking how you’re able to assist. Make it apparent that you care for them and only want to ensure their well-being.

If you suspect someone is thinking about suicide, don’t be afraid to inquire if they’re thinking about hurting themselves, it’s an inquiry that could save their life.

They might not want to speak with you. If that’s the situation, inquire as to if they have somebody with whom they can speak. If they don’t, inform them that there are no-cost resources available for LGBTQ+ people.

Resources for LGBTQ+ mental health

The following are free resources for LGBTQ+ people:

  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Dial 988 at any time of day or night for phone counseling.
  • LGBT National Help Center Hotlines based on age groups: 800-246-7743 for youth, 888-843-4564 for adults, and 888-688-5428 for seniors. Weekly chatrooms for youth and online peer support are also available.
  • Trevor Project Lifeline LGBTQ+ youth can get phone, text, and online help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Rainbow Health Services for mental, chemical, and sexual health for LGBTQ+ people and groups who have historically experienced and continue to suffer hurdles to behavioral health care.
  • Reclaim! Youth who are defined as LGBT or trans have access to inexpensive psychological services.
  • Trans Lifeline Trans Lifeline – Call 877-565-8860 for trans peer help.

Suggest counseling

Most people who are dealing with psychological problems can benefit from psychotherapy. Those who define themselves as LGBTQ+ could profit from meeting with a counselor who is familiar with gender dysphoria and sexual orientation difficulties.

If you have a close connection with a person who is having difficulty, you should strongly suggest counseling. For example, one of the finest ways to assist your LGBTQ+ child is to get them counseling if they want it (and most LGBTQ+ children do).

Embracing diversity and improving LGBTQ+ mental health

Those who define themselves as LGBTQ+ face specific, chronic, and social pressures that raise their risk of developing a mental disease. This isn’t right.

At HealthPartners, we anticipate a future in which minority stress does not have such a significant impact on the psychological well-being of marginalized communities. To achieve an improved future, people and organizations must collaborate to fight bias and accept differences.