05. January 2021
Members of the LGBTIQ* community encounter challenges in their lives that can threaten their mental health. Fortunately, awareness, education and tolerance have been growing in society for years. As psychotherapy and psychosomatic clinics, LIMES Castle Clinics is committed to addressing mental health risk factors, as well as opportunities and possibilities in the LGBTIQ* community in this article. Definition LGBTIQ*:The abbreviation LGBTIQ* stands for lesbian, gay (gay), bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer. The * includes people with sexual orientation or gender identity not listed.
LGBTIQ* people are often exposed to greater psychological distress than people with heterosexual orientation and consistent gender identity. This increases their risk of suffering from mental illness, such as depression. The community constitutes a minority, although its exact proportion in society cannot be accurately measured due to a high underreporting rate and the multi-faceted nature of the community. With regard to common psychological challenges for LGBTIQ*, it becomes apparent that simply belonging to a minority is already a burden. This is because belonging to a minority increases the risk of experiencing discrimination.
The following is an overview of mental health risk factors in the LGBTIQ* community. This overview does not claim to be exhaustive. For more in-depth information on the topic of LGBTIQ*, please refer to the Ministry for Children, Family, Refugees and Integration.
Discrimination describes the unjustified unequal treatment of a person based on certain characteristics, in this case belonging to the LGBTIQ* community. Examples of discrimination in the LGBTIQ* scene include discrimination against registered civil partnerships, disadvantages in the health care system, threatened loss of family and friends due to coming out, or discrimination in the workplace.
Even when no overt hostility is experienced, many community members feel that they cannot live out their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Often, fear of possible rejection plays a role. The constant game of hide-and-seek can lead to high psychological pressure, as the identity has to be concealed. This kind of discrimination often takes place unintentionally. Many people who do not belong to the LGBTIQ* community are not (yet) aware of their privileges and often have no bad intention. Nevertheless, subtle discrimination has a strong impact on psychological well-being in the masses.
The somewhat complicated term intersectionality stands for the interaction of different disadvantages and exclusions. For many LGBTIQ*, in addition to the (supposed) deviation from the norm of sexual orientation or gender identity, there are other characteristics that promote experiences of discrimination. Examples are unemployment, migration experience, disability, chronic illness, skin color or age.
Identity formation and lack of role models
LGBTIQ* have to find their place in society under tightened conditions and assert it for themselves. Those who deviate from the “norm” stand out and make themselves vulnerable. In addition, role models continue to be lacking in the public sphere, even if television series such as Ru Paul’s Drag Race or Queer Eye and public figures such as Jens Spahn, Anne Will or Elliot Page contribute to more enlightenment and tolerance.
Being part of the LGBTIQ* community can play a role in the development of psychological distress – but it does not have to. Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of the increased mental distress among LGBTIQ* and to seek professional support in case of impending or existing mental illness. Topics of this support may include:
LIMES Castle Clinics offer a protected and at the same time open space for this. According to our treatment principle is for us of central importance to consider people holistically and individually.