It’s important to stay informed about the health disparities that disproportionately impact the communities that we’re a part of and those close to us. Although significant strides have been made in recent years toward improving healthcare and access to life insurance for those who identify as queer, there are still challenges we must confront to ensure their well-being.
This article will examine three significant health disparities facing those within the LGBTQ+ population.
Mental health conditions
Studies show that LGBTQ+ individuals experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers. This is due in part to social stigma, discrimination, and marginalization based on sexual orientation or gender identity, which can lead to increased levels of stress and negative self-image.
Because many healthcare providers lack training in understanding the needs of LGBTQ+ people, they are often unable to provide sufficient care for these populations. As a result, many people within the LGBTQ+ community who are victims of gender disparities in health care, suffer from inadequate access to mental health services and treatments that could help them cope with their mental health issues.
Healthcare providers must become better equipped to meet the needs of this population through increased awareness and education about the unique challenges they face. Government policies should also ensure that all communities have access to resources such as mental health services so that everyone can live healthy lives with equal access to care regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ are more likely to suffer from an eating disorder than those in the heterosexual population. This population is almost three times as likely to have an eating disorder, with transgender individuals being at the highest risk.
Many LGBTQ+ people experience higher levels of stigma and discrimination than their heterosexual counterparts, which can lead to feelings of low self-worth and poor body image. Some members of this community face additional pressures related to gender identity and expression, which can further contribute to disordered eating habits.
In 2016, it was reported that approximately 20.5% of LGBTQ+ adults were smokers. LGBTQ+ individuals are also more likely to use substances like alcohol and marijuana for coping purposes due to social stigma, discrimination, and minority stress caused by internalized homophobia.
Due to the lack of access to adequate mental health care within this population, many LGBTQ+ individuals turn to self-medicating with substances to cope with their psychological distress. This can lead to long-term substance abuse issues that can further complicate physical health problems.
The Bottom Line
By fostering education, awareness, and acceptance, we can help to ensure that individuals within the queer community have the resources and opportunities for better healthcare. We need to acknowledge that this work does not fall only on those within the queer community but upon friends, allies, and those in positions of power.
Each individual needs to encourage access to quality care and provide support for those experiencing mental health conditions, substance abuse, or eating disorders so that there can finally be an end to these disparities. By uniting around this cause and modeling inclusive behaviors, we can create an equitable future where everyone has equal rights and access to medical attention.