Healthy Huskies: Mental health in the LGBTQIA+ community  

People in the LGBTQIA+ community can experience mental health, especially men. Read more about how it happens and how to prevent it. Illustration by Steven Coleman/The Daily Campus

Being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community can be a beautiful experience. It can be freeing to live as your truest self. But being a part of the community does not come without struggle. With increasing sentiments of homophobia and transphobia, along with a rise in LGBTQIA+-targeted hate crimes, it can be hard to find joy in being queer. Most recently, the community experienced devastating losses in the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs, where five people were killed and 17 were injured.  

In the face of these tragedies, mental health has never been a more important topic. In a mental health study, it was found that 61% of the community has depression, 36% experience anxiety and 45% have post-traumatic stress disorder (However, this number is likely to be higher). Transgender people also face high rates of mental health difficulties, with 40% of trans people attempting suicide at one point in their lives. This number is nine times higher than the national average.  

Forms of addiction are also common in the LGBTQIA+ community. Eating disorders affect the community, with gay and bisexual men experiencing higher rates of anorexia and bulimia than their straight peers. Existing research shows that eating disorders affect about 5% of the male population, but within that five percent, 42% identify as gay. Gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals are found to experience more instances of bulimia. A 2015 study shows that transgender college students reported an eating disorder at four times the rate of their cisgender peers. Drug and alcohol addictions can also affect the LGBTQIA+ community. In a report by the American Addiction Center, it was found that LGBTQIA+ adults are twice as likely to use illicit substances and twice as likely to experience a substance use disorder.  

When dealing with mental health disorders, it is important to remember that minority populations are often at a higher risk for difficulties surrounding mental health. The unique issues of hate and discrimination that affect the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities only add to these struggles. When you feel hated or discriminated against for who you are or how you present, it can be hard to feel okay with yourself. However, there are actions you can take to help treat mental health difficulties. 

Try reaching out to a therapist or counselor to discuss the issues you are facing. There are also many therapists and mental health professionals who specialize in minority populations. Many studies also show that being a part of your community can help with mental health issues. Reach out to the Rainbow Center or one of the University of Connecticut’s other cultural centers and see how you can get involved. By joining groups in your community, you can feel more connected to others and celebrate your identities together.  

If you are experiencing difficulties with mental health or other behavioral issues, there is hope. Start by reaching out to Student Health and Wellness for help. There, you will find trained therapists and counselors who can aid you on your mental health journey. Visit their website for more information, or call 860-486-4705. 

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