Same sex attraction is more common than people think; here are some of the statistics on LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people in Australia.
- In Australia, 9% of adult men and 15% of women are attracted to the same sex, while only approximately 2% of people identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.
- Transgender people account for around 1 in every 500-11,500 people.
- Intersex people account for around 1 in 200-2,000 people.
Why LGBT People are more Vulnerable to Mental Health Issues
Being LGBT has become increasingly more accepted by our society over the last few decades. However, many LGBT people still suffer from discrimination and stigma due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Research shows that LGBT people are almost twice as at risk of discrimination and social exclusion, compared to non-LGBT people. This means that they are also more vulnerable to mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety disorders, and suicide and self-harm, due to the stresses of daily life and a lack of support from others.
- LGBT people are more likely to become a target of discrimination due to their sexual identity or gender identity. Discrimination can be both obvious and subtle in work, school and social situations.
- Because of the fears of discrimination, it is often not easy to disclose their sexual/gender identity.
- It means they cannot be who they are in many settings, which causes extra stress.
- Because of discrimination, LGBT people tend to suffer from reduced access to employment and educational opportunities, creating further stress and difficulties in daily life.
- LGBT people are more at risk of being isolated because of difficulties in disclosing their concerns to other people.
- Many LGBT people tend to avoid certain situations due to fear of discrimination, resulting in social isolation.
- It is more difficult for LGBT people to find someone whom they can relate to.
- Due to all the above, LGBT people tend to turn to alcohol and other substances, creating further problems.
Promoting LGBT Mental Health
It is important for LGBT people to receive extra care and support in the community. To promote resilience, it is important for LGBT people to:
- Have emotional connection with other people in the community;
- Know where they can seek professional support when needed;
- develop stress and anxiety management skills while they are still psychologically healthy, to prevent mental illness.
Counselling with a psychologist or other mental health professional can be a source of vital social support that can potentially bring the following benefits:
- gaining skills to better handle stress and anxiety;
- building self-esteem;
- improving mood;
- exploring and better understanding their own identity;
- developing strategies to improve their sleep, diet and exercise habits;
- addressing any issues related to overuse of drugs or alcohol.
There are also a number of organisations that provide valuable resources, information and support for LGBT people, including:
- Freedom Centre (freedom.org.au);
- National LGBT Health Alliance (lgbthealth.org.au);
- Twenty10 a place to be you (twenty10.org.au);
- Coming Out Australia (comingout.com.au);
- It Gets Better Project (itgetsbetter.org);
- Organisation Intersex International (oiiaustralia.com).
If you identify as LGBT and would like to talk to somebody about any of the worries or challenges you may have, please feel free to make an appointment with me.
Author: Yu Takizawa, B Sc (Hons), M Couns, M App Psych.
Yu Takizawa is a Brisbane psychologist, fluent in both English and Japanese. He is particularly interested in offering counselling and psychotherapy services to people who are facing cultural challenges (such as being LGBT), and problems with anxiety.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.