Monday Mind Talks: Here’s How Social Pressure Affects the Mental Health of Genderqueer Teens
LGBT people have become more accepted and welcomed in India over the past decade, especially in urban areas. However, the majority of LGBT people in India continue to lead a secret life for fear of prejudice from their families, who may view homosexuality as a sin. Even though LGBTIQ+ people are increasingly accepted by society and are more visible in the media and public life, many LGBTIQ+ people continue to face violence, harassment and discrimination in the workplace. , in their places of education and in other public and private places. environments that continue to impact their mental health.
Today we’ll hear from two doctors about the impact social pressure has on the mental health of teens who identify as genderqueer.
1. What mental health issues make the young LGBTQI+ generation one of the most vulnerable groups in society?
LGBTQ people have greater mental health issues than heterosexual people. They develop these mental health issues because of the stigma, prejudice and discrimination they experience because of their difference. Dr. Venkatesh Babu, Consultant Psychiatrist at Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore, explains the health issues saying, “There are various mental health issues reported in this group, such as depression (about 2/3), traumatic stress disorder ( about half), suicide. (nearly 40%), substance use disorder (40%) and anxiety disorder (about 1/3). These illnesses are further complicated by the identity of LGBTQ members such as non-acceptance by the majority, difficulty in being employed, poor support system, poverty, lack of educational opportunities, aggression, trauma and abuses against them which also serve as barriers in seeking medical help.
2. One of the most difficult aspects of working with LGBT youth is the issue of family acceptance. How important is it to include families in supporting young LGBT people?
Parents react in many ways when their child comes out as LGBTQ. At another end of the spectrum, they might even reject their child and send him away. At the other extreme, they embrace their child’s uniqueness. Dr Shalini Joshi, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore, comments on how crucial parental acceptance is: “Lack of family and social acceptance can affect LGBTQ adolescents emotionally and mentally. This can lead to psychiatric problems, drug addiction and even suicide in some cases. The environment and the way they are treated can make them uncomfortable. Due to prejudice and cultural pressures, this age group attempts suicide at a higher rate than other age groups. Accepting and supportive families encourage positive outcomes for LGBTQ youth. Lesbian and bisexual women seem more likely to be overweight and receive fewer cancer screenings as a preventive measure. While transgender people may have mental health issues and are less likely to have health insurance, gay men are more likely to contract STDs and HIV. As LGBT youth may feel cut off from society and alone, they may develop or turn to substance abuse issues.
3. What strategies can organizations follow to promote positive and healthy outcomes for LBGT youth?
Organizations can track some healthy outcomes to support queer people by having a better awareness of the challenges and issues that LGBTQI+ teens face. The solutions are explained by Dr. Venkatesh, who says, “These people can suffer from their everyday experiences that can impact their mental health even in the absence of mental illnesses. Thus, managing mental health in special groups of the LGBTQ type requires certain systemic solutions such as raising awareness of mainstream groups which can take the form of pride, teaching young people about their uniqueness and challenges and their respect, job creation/housing opportunities, etc.
For LGBTQIA+ youth, feeling safe and supported can be more difficult due to discrimination, loneliness, harassment, and safety issues. Young people who identify as LGBTQIA+ can try to establish support networks in their neighborhood or access online resources that may offer care and support that affirms their identity.
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