Some of us identify as LGBTQIA+, which means we may be lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans, inter-sex, non-binary, queer or questioning, or asexual. However you define your sexuality and gender, we can all experience mental health issues.
But those who identify as LGBTQIA+ may be at higher risk of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, self-harm, suicidal feelings and substance misuse.
Being LGBTQIA+ does not cause mental health issues – but it can mean that people face homophobia, transphobia, stigma, discrimination, social isolation and rejection, and difficult experiences coming out, all of which can lead to degradation of mental wellbeing. A recent study by Stonewall found that half of LGBTQIA+ people had experienced depression and three in five had experienced anxiety, and one in eight LGBTQIA+ people aged 18-24 had attempted to end their life.
Statistics like these demonstrate just how much harm prejudice and stigma can do to our mental health. That’s why it’s so encouraging to see news that global companies are starting to make changes: TikTok has recently announced a ban of transphobic, homophobia and misogynistic harassment on its platform.
Such content was already banned, but this now applies to the community guidelines as well – experiencing discrimination based on gender and sexuality has been causing real-world harm, and TikTok is keen to support the wellbeing of the community. There is still lots to be done, but the new rules are a step in the right direction to making the platform a safer space for everyone.
Remember, embracing your LGBTQIA+ identity can also be a positive and empowering experience which can boost mental health and wellbeing, making us feel more confident and providing a sense of community and belonging.
If you need support on any of these issues, Mind offers LGBTQIA+ mental health support, as well as a host of useful contacts.
-The YU Team