As our world strives to be more progressive, we notice more days and months highlighted for the sake of celebrating marginalized members of our community. If we believe that these initiatives are taken for a better state of equality, acceptance, love and peace, what happens when the days and the months sunset? This question is on our minds with the close of Pride month for the LGBTQIA+ community, especially with regard to research behind the challenges members of this community face with their mental health. When the parades pack up, the flags come down, and the social media avatars switch back from rainbow to their original state, what does normal look like? Normal day-to-day, typical circumstances, orderly barriers to entry?
About forty percent of people identifying within the LGBTQIA+ communIty reported having a mental illness in the past year. Existing as the “other” in a world where they foster feelings of fear, discrimination, bias, and shame, there’s a serious tax being paid on well-being.
Mental Health America helps get a better grasp on this reality:
- LGBTQ+ teens are six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression than non-LGBTQ+ identifying teens.
- LGBTQ+ youth are more than twice as likely to feel suicidal and over four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth.
- Forty-eight percent of transgender adults report that they have considered suicide in the last year, compared to 4% of the US population.
What is failing them, however, is that many of the mental health crises facing them aren’t covered by everyday mental health practitioners.
The treatment issues are vast, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the research highlights:
- An average of 8% of individuals and 27% of transgender individuals have said they have been “denied needed health care outright.”
- Further, there is a stigma, lack of cultural sensitivity, and an unconscious and conscious reluctance to deliver them the care they need.
- The above also references that health care providers “prefer” to treat heterosexual people over lesbian and gay people.
Couple this with the crippling costs of mental healthcare and therapy, and it’s no wonder that so many simply feel the need to forego any treatment or intervention.
There is a movement toward embracing the idea of resilience as a beacon of hope and not just a coping mechanism for the LGBTQIA+ community. A paper penned in the Sociology Compass encourages us to think that “[shifting our] understanding of resistance, joy, and pleasure in LGBTQ youth’s lives promotes a more dynamic and complicated look at how marginalized groups navigate their social worlds and exert power in shaping these worlds. Acknowledging and uplifting LGBTQ youth’s resistance and power are necessary in pushing scholarly dialogue and the possible interventions informed by research towards a more fully transformative framework in changing and dismantling oppressive societal structures.”
Mental health is a crippling issue facing everyone, not just our LGBTQIA+ loved ones. How we approach it and help ease its burden is not just through acknowledging and recognizing the hardships faced by these individuals. But also through offering the right mental health services, the right therapists, and therapies that support the development of the resilience they need to cope with life events.
There’s still a lot of work to be done from policy, to cultural tolerance, and also technology. Where we can speak to the issue most directly, we believe that technologies designed for well-being are starting to make a real positive impact on the realm of mental health (especially the use of AI, which can define and target the specific stressors and anxieties felt by individuals).
So, while this past month, we celebrated the resilience and courage of our LGBTQIA+ family, it’s not a simple moment in time that we should stop and pause. We should embrace it every day, which is what we are doing here at Kai.