Healthcare Technology Featured Article

October 20, 2020

How Online Therapy can Assist in Common Mental Health Challenges in the LGBTQ Community




There are many mental health challenges that the LGBTQ community will experience during their lifetime. The negative effects of experiences of marginalization and discrimination can have a long-lasting impact on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, or questioning individuals that can stem from childhood and carry on through their adult life.

Understanding these impacts and knowing how to prevent them in the first place can help to protect and improve LGBTQ mental health at both a local and national level. With that in mind, here are some of the most common mental health challenges that the LGBTQ community face and what strategies can be taken to help such individuals and eradicate the stigma associated with mental health.

Anxiety

It’s estimated that between 30-60% of the LGBTQ community deal with anxiety at some point in their life. When compared with straight people, this rate is 1.5-2.5 times higher and raises many questions. The reason why LGBTQ individuals suffer from greater levels of anxiety is down to their experience as a minority group that faces regular prejudice and discrimination. LGBTQ people are the only category of people that can still be legally discriminated against in the US, with 29 states offering no protection at all against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity.

If you suffer from anxiety and aren’t sure where to turn, there is online therapy specifically for LGBT community members that can help.

Depression

Like with anxiety, the LGBTQ community have a higher rate of being depressed when compared to the heterosexual population. Surveys carried out indicated that 28% of the LGBTQ youth (including 40% of transgender youth) noted that they felt depressed most or all of the time. Depression is a mood disorder that causes a continual feeling of sadness. Depression alters how an individual feels, thinks, and performs, which can result in numerous emotional and physical problems.

The general methods used to help those with depression include CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), psychodynamic therapy, and interpersonal therapy. Many individuals are given antidepressants which can improve quality of life and suppress feelings of self-doubt. There is also tech that can help with depression, such as specialist smartphone apps.

Self-Harm

Self-harm is when an individual deliberately injures or damages their body. Many people of the LGBTQ community face prejudice and discrimination in day to day life, which can lower confidence, self-esteem, and increase the risk of self-harm. Many people self-harm to cope with intense anger, frustration, and emotional pain. For the LGBTQ community, some will self-harm as an escapism from the verbal and physical abuse they receive from others.

If you or a loved one in the LGBTQ community are self-harming, you must see your doctor immediately. They are there to help and treat any physical injuries you have caused, as well as recommend further assessment and treatment if necessary. Talking therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy are carried out by trained therapists who can help you understand the reasoning behind why you self-harm and you will learn coping techniques to prevent you from self-harming.

Suicide

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged between 10 and 24. LGBTQ youth in particular seriously contemplate suicide at almost 3 times the rate of heterosexual counterparts. Many of the LGBTQ community feel like there is no other option than to take their own life as they feel as though they’re a burden on their families and can’t handle the physical and psychological abuse from others. What’s more, 28% of U.S LGBTQ youth who have undergone conversion therapy had attempted suicide within the last 12 months.

If you are feeling suicidal, or you are concerned about a loved one, knowing the warning signs and taking them seriously is crucial. There are many support lines that you can call which provide confidential advice and guidance to help you.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Much of the LGBTQ community has faced discrimination from a very young age, stemming back to childhood and school. Some individuals push the name-calling and abuse to the back of their minds. However, later down the line in adult life, some LGBTQ members experience post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.

Common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include bad dreams, flashbacks, and difficulty sleeping. If you believe you have PTSD, there are treatments available like talking therapies and antidepressants which can help. No matter the circumstance behind PTSD, you should never suffer in silence. If you feel embarrassed about your past, there are professionals who can help you without judgment.

Mental health is one of the most important aspects of being healthy. While the LGBTQ community face many obstacles like everybody else, they may encounter more hurdles when it comes to looking after their mental health due to stigma and prejudice from others.

If you or a loved one recognize any of the mental health challenges listed above, there are lots of online resources that you can check out which can provide support and guidance.









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