Despite significant improvements in community and cultural acceptance of diverse sexual and romantic orientations and gender identifications, there is still oppression, discrimination and marginalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around Australia.
Coping with discrimination and oppression, coming out to one’s family, and discovering an authentic sense of self in the face of social expectations and pressures can lead to higher levels of depression, anxiety, substance use, and other mental health concerns for LGBTQ people.
Research shows that youth who identify as LGBTQ are at an increased risk of suicidal ideation and self-harm particularly when they also experience discrimination based on their sexual or gender identity. A recent study found students who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender were almost ten times as likely to have experienced bullying and victimization at school and more than twice as likely to have considered suicide as their heterosexual, non-transgender classmates within the previous year.
Discrimination may take several forms, including social rejection, verbal and physical bullying, and sexual assault, and repeated episodes will likely lead to chronic stress and diminished mental health. Perceived discrimination—the expectation of discrimination—may also lead to diminished mental health. LGBTQ adults, too, may be subject to similar forms of harassment, as well as discrimination with regards to housing, employment, education, and basic human rights.
Sometimes just having someone who will listen without judgement and help find your path with support, empathy and warmth makes the world of difference.
Matthew Reynolds has a gradute diploma is Counselling and a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He was a qualified accountant before embarking on a more satisfying career of counselling.