LGBTQ+ and anxiety
In the UK, February is LGBTQ+ history month and the theme for 2021 is ‘Body, Mind, Spirit’ – with the emphasis on education and the provision of support for those in the community.
Anxiety in the LGBTQ+ Community
According to Stonewall’s 2018 Health Report, 3 out of 5 people who identify as LGBTQ+ reported having experienced anxiety in the previous year. While the NHS estimates that 5 percent of adults report experiencing suicidal thoughts, it was found that 52 percent of LGBTQ+ people (aged 18-24) have had these feelings.
Although rates of anxiety, depression, and anxiety related conditions are higher amongst the queer community than general population estimates (1 in 6), it is also reported that 14 percent of LGBTQ+ people avoid seeking support due to fear of discrimination. Instances of anxiety are also more prevalent in individuals who fall within intersectional communities/identities (e.g. BAME and/or disabled).
There are many reasons why this is the case: lack of access to appropriate services, feelings of isolation, and the experience of systemic prejudice are just a few.
Of those Anxiety UK members who accessed therapy in 2020 and also disclosed their sexual orientation, approximately 13% reported as having an identity other than heterosexual. Of this group, 28% identified their main concern to be a mixture of Anxiety and Depression whilst 23% stated Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) was the main reason they were seeking support.
As someone in the LGBTQ+ community, the one thing I can say for certain is that everyone’s experience is different – just as how everyone’s relationship with their own mental wellbeing is unique to them. Figuring out what works for you can be difficult, and may look nothing like those around you, but that’s okay! Finding this can be daunting and requires a lot of courage and trust but feeling validated and affirmed by your support network is important when fostering an environment in which you feel safe and heard.
If you are supporting someone with anxiety who also identifies as LGBTQ+, then listening to their needs is the best first step to helping them in a meaningful way. It is also important to try to understand the significance of the queer experience and help to create a space of acceptance for your loved ones, and those around you.
For therapists and institutions of support, it is vital to highlight places that are LGBTQ+ inclusive, signpost people to resources that are appropriate and informed, and keep updated with the issues faced by minority groups such as (but not limited to) the queer community.
Useful Resources & Links
For more information about Anxiety UK’s therapy services, visit: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/access-therapy/
For further information regarding the LGBTQ+ community, visit: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/
LGBTQ+ History Month: https://lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk/
LGBT In Britain Health Report (2018), Stonewall
Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (2014), NHS