To be healthy, sound mental health is as important as good physical health. While everyone, as per the law, has equal rights to access the available health care facilities, those belonging to the sexual minority group often find themselves devoid of the necessary help.
A recent study by the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health says that lesbians, gays and bisexuals are more likely to manifest symptoms of poor physical and mental health than others. The discrimination faced by American marginalized groups regarding access to proper mental health care contributes to their increasing vulnerability to develop irresponsible drinking and smoking habits.
The study, titled “Comparison of Health and Health Risk Factors Between Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults and Heterosexual Adults in the United States,” focused on the people belonging to minority sexual orientation and the psychological distress that they experience.
LGB adults experience significant health disparities
For the study, published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in June 2016, the scientists used the data from the National Health Interview Survey. The researchers examined participants aged 46.8 years on an average and compared details regarding health and health risk factors of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults with their heterosexual counterparts.
The survey initiated in 2013 on 68,814 participants contained questions enquiring about their sexual orientation. The researchers found that nearly 2 percent of the adult population who were not receiving treatment from any mental institution were either lesbian, gay or bisexual. It was also observed that gays and bisexuals suffered from some levels of mental discomfort as compared to the heterosexual participants.
The extent of emotional pain ranged from moderate to severe, which made gays and bisexuals more inclined toward heavy drinking and smoking. Gay men were found to show greater susceptibility to emotional distress, along with heavy drinking habits and moderate smoking habits, when compared with heterosexual men. Lesbians exhibited greater risks of being afflicted with poor health, along with a multitude of prolonged mental illnesses, and hence, they were either heavy drinkers or moderate smokers when compared with heterosexuals.
Bisexual women demonstrated more long-term conditions of emotional health, including heavy drinking habits and moderate smoking habits, than their heterosexual counterparts. Lead author Dr. Gilbert Gonzales, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, said, “Findings from our study indicate that LGB adults experience significant health disparities — particularly in mental health and substance use — likely due to the minority stress that LGB adults experience as a result of their exposure to both interpersonal and structural discrimination.”
Road to recovery
Isolation from the social circle gives way to psychological distress, with an increasing susceptibility to use addictive substances. The tendency to indulge in various types of addictions among LGB adults shows the extent of mental agony suffered by them. The study urges medical practitioners to be more sensitive while dealing with mental health patients of this group. A supportive environment will go a long way in making things easier for them.
Apart from the host of medications and therapies that can be used to treat mental health conditions, it is important to provide the patients with emotional support and care. If your loved one is suffering from depression or any other mental condition, you must seek professional help from one of the trusted mental health facilities. To know about various treatments for mental illnesses, you may contact the Sovereign Mental Health Services. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 954-0529 or chat online to find out about our facilities that are among the best mental illness treatment facilities.