The LGBTQIA+ community has historically struggled with finding care and treatment for their mental health. For a long time, being gay, transgender, or another type of sexuality besides heterosexual was classified as a mental illness. The newest update to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) has removed gay and transgenderism as being part of a mental illness, to the relief of many people. In the past, the LGBTQIA+ community was subject to cruel acts to make them ‘”normal,” leaving lasting trauma.
This is why it can be hard for people who are members of this community to trust that the mental healthcare field has changed. It’s a large reason why many LGBTQIA+ members don’t seek treatment, even though they may need it. Those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ identity are more likely to struggle with a mental illness or disorder compared to others. A study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has discovered that those identifying as part of the LGBTQIA+ community are more likely to think about, plan, and attempt suicide at some point in their life. This is especially true with the youth, who may face more social isolation and bullying compared to adults.
However, perceptions around identity and mental health have changed greatly over the past few decades, mainly for the better. Mental healthcare is available to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or identity. More choices have opened up to allow people to receive treatment where they are most comfortable. Judging those based on who they are is no longer a part of any accredited treatment center. But trust is earned, not given, and mental health facilities have done much to earn that trust.
The Power of Choice in Treatment
If you are seeking mental health treatment, you have more power than you realize. It’s easy to be overtaken by fearful thoughts of being locked away forever because of your identity. This is not the case. You, as a client, have the power to choose treatments, not be forced into them. A mental healthcare professional can make suggestions on what treatments may help you the most, but you always have the final say.
If a therapist isn’t clicking well or not providing the care you need, you can choose someone else. Sometimes it can take time to find the right therapist to suit your needs, so there’s no judgment if you feel as though you need to try someone else. If you feel uncomfortable, you have the power to stop the treatment or session. You can even leave if you like. It’s important to stick with treatments, but you know best when it’s too much and you need a break.
Modern treatment is not the asylums of old or the dark places portrayed in the media. It is a place of healing where you have the power to guide your treatment.
Destigmatizing Metal Health and LGBTQIA+
There are many reasons why mental health issues are common in the LGBTQIA+ community. Outside influences tend to be the strongest, with bullying and rejection being major sources of emotional stress. Everyone, at some point, struggles to figure out who they are. When it comes to members of the LGBTQIA+ community, this struggle can sometimes be dangerous. As a result, many people find themselves isolated and without a support network, fearful of being out and open.
Thankfully in the digital age, it’s becoming easier to find support networks that can reach even the most isolated person. Information is now easier to share than ever, and the latest in scientific research can be discovered quickly. Now it’s becoming harder to ignore the vulnerable members of our population, making it important to begin open and frank discussions about mental health. Mental health needs to be destigmatized, as our health directly corresponds to it. If we want a healthy population, we need to start with our minds and how we treat those that need help.
Not everyone with a mental health disorder is part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and vice versa. However, we cannot ignore the social views that tend to cause these mental health disorders. Especially to a group that is already vulnerable to harm.
Finding LGBTQIA+ Mental Health Treatment
Treatments for a mental illness or disorder are now more accessible than it has ever been before. In the past, people of the LGBTQIA+ community had to rely on the rare treatment center that would accept them as clients despite their identity. This is no longer the case.
Every accredited mental healthcare facility must offer quality treatment to all clients, no matter their identity. It is illegal to discriminate against someone based on their gender identity or sexuality, and this applies to treatment centers. If you are struggling with your mental health, you can call any local mental healthcare facility to take the next step in your recovery journey.
For immediate help, several call centers exist that can help someone find the resources they need. If you feel as though you are in immediate danger of harming yourself, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline can help you.
There are some treatment centers and other support services out there specifically for the LGBTQIA+ community and their unique problems. Some therapists have trained to specifically treat the issues people may face regarding their gender or sexual identity. Numerous support groups now exist to offer support and encouragement to fellow LGBTQIA+ community members. Contacting your local mental healthcare facilities, community centers, and hospitals can often point someone in the direction of a support group.
Remember that it doesn’t matter who or what you are. Everyone deserves quality and compassionate care for their mental health. It’s never shameful to acknowledge when you need help. Needing help is part of being human. If you or someone you love is struggling, reach out for help today. It could save a life, including yours.
For those who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, it can be difficult to trust others with their mental health. This is especially true with how people in this community have been historically treated when they tried to get help. With the high rate of suicide within the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s more important now than ever to break the stigma. At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, you don’t have to fear mistreatment when looking for help. We employ compassionate mental healthcare professionals who provide quality treatment to anyone who needs it. Everyone deserves the highest quality care for their mental health disorder. Don’t wait; call (949) 647-4090 today.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.