Mental health issues of LGBTQIA++ community: A community and a health issue of concern

Source: The post is based on the article “A community and a health issue of concern” published in “The Hindu” on 8th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: To understand the mental health issues of LGBTQIA++ community.

News: Recently Pride month (June) has been celebrated successfully. However, India’s class, caste and regionally diverse LGBTQIA++ communities remain at risk of life-long mental illnesses and challenges.

What is the status of mental illnesses among LGBTQIA++ communities?

This relentless dissonance and alienation can result in internalised homophobia, often leading to anxiety, loneliness and substance use. For instance, LGBTQIA++ youth are likely to suffer 1.75 times more anxiety and depression than the rest of society. On the other hand, the transgender community is even more vulnerable as its members suffer 2.4 times higher anxiety and depression.

Read more: Madras High Court guidelines for mainstreaming LGBTIQA+ community
What is the reason for increasing mental illnesses among LGBTQIA++ communities?

Dissonance and stigma: This is caused by life-long dissonance, deep-rooted stigma, discrimination and often abuse, that the community experiences. This often leads to extreme distress and poor self-worth, resulting in self-hate and suffering.

Less discussions: Sexual orientation and gender identity are rarely discussed in Indian social, educational or familial environments. Even done, these discussions are stigmatising. in nature.

Marginalisation: Society marginalises LGBTQIA++ people throughout life, no matter how accomplished they may be.

Inadequate access to health services: A large majority of the psychiatrists in India still consider diverse sexual orientations and gender identities as a disorder and practice ‘correctional therapy’.

A private study also found that numerous trans and gay men preferred to pay and seek help in the private sector rather than access government health care due to harassment and stigma.

Read more: End discrimination, frame specific policies for LGBTIQ+ workers: ILO
What should be done to improve the mental health of LGBTQIA++?

Destigmatise diverse gender and sexual identities: India needs comprehensive long-term solutions that make queer mental health a priority and address community needs. This can be done by ensuring every aspect of mental health work in India must include aspects of queer mental health issues, especially in schools and universities.

Community building: facilitate the LGBTQIA++ community’s engagement with all stakeholders, including educational institutions, communities, health-care providers, mental health professionals, police personnel and families who are often a key source of mental health stress.

Further, India needs to create supportive, safe and educative spaces, access points for health care and information on mental health

Read more: India’s 1st LGBT+ workplace equality index launched

Without addressing both the preventive and support aspects of the mental health of LGBTQIA++ people India will compound an already neglected problem of mental illness that will be hard to handle in the future.

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