LGBT mental health
People who identify as LGB or trans* are at more of a risk of developing anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm and other mental health issues than their heterosexual counterparts. This can be said to be influenced by many factors, predominantly negative or perceived negative experiences such as homophobic or transphobic bullying. Discrimination, harassment, rejection, prejudice, abuse and etc. These can be considered to be unique factors for LGBT people as a sexual minority.
Discrimination, prejudice and bullying can have far-reaching consequences. Coming out can be full of pitfalls, hiding one's self, fear of rejection or experiences of rejection impact upon self-esteem and self-worth. Turning inwards on oneself creating a 'whur' of negative thoughts and feelings such as 'internalised homophobia' or 'internalised transphobia'. Being perceived as different from the 'rest' can cause us to question ourselves.
Societal prejudice has lessened and we have come some way in developing our attitudes, which continues. But discrimination and prejudice still exist. We live in a world that many feel does not appropriately reflect 'us' and our lives. There are hidden covert messages in the media about what it means to be 'normal' which in some way reinforces the message that being different is not acceptable. The notion of 'fitting in' not just in the wider community but within LGBT communities can and does come with its own pressures.
To top this, struggling with mental health issues within the LGBT community can come with its own double-edged sword. Regardless of one's sexuality and sexual identity and the factors that influence individuals mental well-being. Having a mental health problem brings about its own discrimination, prejudice and etc. Often individuals feel like others do not understand them, that they may minimise their experiences or are treated differently as they have mental health issues. Which may lead to the feeling of isolation and loneliness.
It can be helpful to have a space where you can be who you are and are supported in your experiences, not being judged, being heard and valued. Building upon your self-esteem and self-image, exploring the impact your experiences have upon you and how you react and respond to them. It could be your first time you really felt listened to and some experiences may be painful, confusing, sad, angry, guilty or full of shame. Exploring these can be beneficial and talking with a professional who has experience of working with various mental health issues as well as an understanding of LGBT issues may be helpful. In counselling, you may explore and identify ways of better coping and managing your problems and issues. Using a number of strategies, techniques and approaches that work for you.
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About Justin Lee Slaughter
I have a varied range of experience, a background in counselling and psychotherapy, social science and in healthcare with a broad range of experience in both adult and adolescent mental health. I manage a small private counselling practice as well as currently volunteering as part of a counselling team at THT Brighton and Hove.