Thanks to a higher level of social acceptance for diverse sexual orientations and gender identifications, more and more gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders are seeking mental health treatment, sometimes for issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identity, but often simply for the same issues – depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, addictions, confusion about self, shame, insecurities, and so forth – for which anyone else seeks therapy.
The most common issues for which G, L, B, T, Q, people seek treatment are:
- Relationship issues
- Domestic violence
- Substance use, in particular, crystal meth
- Anger management
- Sex and intimacy
- Sexual compulsivity
- Transgender-specific issues
- Poor self esteem
Folks who identify themselves as a member of the LGBTQ community may experience stressors not experienced by “straight” people. Although there is a wider social acceptance of LGBTQ persons than just 10 or 20 years ago, prejudice is certainly still prevalent, particularly outside major metropolitan areas. Dealing with prejudice, coming out to one’s family, sorting out an “authentic” sense of self in the face of social expectations and pressures – all this can lead to higher levels of depression and anxiety for LGBTQ folks. Research proves that suicide rates are higher among teens that are gay or lesbian than among heterosexual adolescents. For adults, being openly gay in the workplace or in public is not always easy. Therapy can help manage the choices and emotions that are, sadly, still inevitable for most LGBTQ people. Gay couples fight over many of the same things straight couples fight about – money, sex, the in-laws, quality time, children rearing, illness, poor communication skills, for example – even if they also may argue over issues of coming out and having a public identity as a gay couple, which a straight couple wouldn’t have to face.
Entering mental health treatment for many LGBTQ individuals may be of great help as they learn how to sort out so many additional issues relating to self-discovering and life as a whole.