Homosexuality. Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual. Transgender. Questioning. Asexual.
These are not a mental illness. In 1973 The American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from it’s list of diagnoses in the DSM. All major mental health professionals agree with this, that it is not a mental health condition.
However, there are greater levels of mental health problems within this group of individuals. It is not due to their beliefs though. In large part, it is thought to be due to the discrimination and stigma that they face on a daily basis.
When a young person is faced with “coming out” to their parents or peers, and rejected by either, their risk for depression and suicide is quite high. Anxiety and self harm becomes and issue as well. Substance abuse might begin to occur. Abuse – physically and emotionally at home can occur. All of these factors can lead to a decline in mental health and serious mental illness later on in life.
It is important that mental health issues of that are LGBTQ are addressed if they need to be. No, not everyone in this group has them. But when they do occur, they should not be afraid to seek help. And there should be adequate resources to help them.
We should stand behind them to help them get the support they need. All too many times people tell them they need to change, to seek help from church, to pray, even to get “conversion therapy.” I am not here to debate beliefs on this blog and will not do so. I am simply here to discuss that those that are so defeated by the stigma and discrimination due to their own beliefs feel the need to escape life by suicide or self injury or substance abuse – need help. Professional help through counseling, therapy, psychiatry. Friendship and understanding.
I had friends come out in middle school, I had friends come out in high school, I had a lot of friends that were out in college. I am 26 so I knew people that were coming out when we were 12,13 back in 2000 or so. It was hard for them. They were not treated that great. But then, once they came out, a few others did too, and it wasn’t such a big deal. Honestly, in my generation, it really isn’t as big of a deal as it was a long time ago. But it still is a really big deal at the same time. So, if you know someone battling stress, anxiety, self harm, substance abuse, or suicidal thoughts related specifically to this issue – here are some resources.
Some resources are:
GLBT National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
GLBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743)
Online peer-support chat: http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org/chat/index.html
NAMI – GLBT Resources