Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people are likely to be at higher risk for depression. The reason for these disparities is most likely related to the societal stigma and resulting prejudice and discrimination that GLBT face on a regular basis, from society at large, but also from family members, peers, co-workers and classmates.
Dual or Double Stigma
Mental illness is regrettably still stigmatized in our society. So, too, is being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. A GLBT person with depression may be in the unfortunate position, then, of having to contend with both stigmas. They may also have to deal with additional job stress or the loss of friends. This societal stigma can contribute to and exacerbate existing mental health problems. Rather than be stigmatized, some GLBT may choose to keep their sexuality a secret, which also causes psychological stress.
It is helpful for people with depression to rely on family for support. However, for some GLBT people, families are not accepting of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In extreme cases, GLBT people are disowned or kicked out of their homes, which leaves them without an important source of support. Such situations may contribute to more vulnerability among this population.
Research released by Caitlin Ryan, PhD, director of the Family Acceptance Project at the César E. Chávez Institute at San Francisco State University in early 2009 has established a predictive link between specific, negative family reactions to their child’s sexual orientation and serious health problems for these adolescents in young adulthood—such as depression, illegal drug use, risk for HIV infection and suicide attempts.Read more:
NAMI’s Multicultural Action Center’s GLBT mental health resources section: