Every June, L.A. CADA joins with our community to recognize Pride Month – it’s a time to reflect on the impact and issues that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and other non-gender-conforming people have in the world. When it comes to health and well-being, clinical research finds that people who identify as LGBTQ+ face a host of health disparities, as well as greater risk of harassment and violence. Societal stigma, cultural bias, discrimination, and denial of basic civil and human rights are negative social determinants of health.
Specifically, discrimination against LGBTQ+ people has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance use, and suicide. Stress that comes from daily battles with discrimination, stigma, and rejection is a principal driver in high rates of behavioral health disorders. As do many others, people in sexual minorities use alcohol and drugs as a way to cope with painful issues. The lack of culturally competent care further fuels high rates of substance use among LGBTQ+ people.
In fact, when compared to people who identify as straight, people in sexual minorities are three times more likely to experience a mental health condition. Between 20-30% of LGBTQ+ people use alcohol and drugs, compared to about 9% of the general population.. Youth who are LGBTQ+ are four times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, and engage in self-harm, as compared to youth that identify as straight.
So, what can we do to help prioritize mental health and well-being for our LGBTQ family, friends, and neighbors?
It helps to become an ally and take steps to normalize conversations about mental health, addiction, and wellness. This can be as easy as asking someone ‘How are you doing today?’ and taking the time to really listen to their response. It’s also important to learn about mental health and LGBTQ resources that are available locally. L.A. CADA offers LGBTQ+ -affirming behavioral health counseling, as well as Recovery Bridge Housing. We also provide referrals to LGBTQ+ resources in the community that can help with access to housing, legal aide, and social services.
Learn more about LGBTQ+ Affirming Behavioral Healthcare