Due to increased stigma, discrimination, and victimization, the LGBTQ community faces particular health challenges in society. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the critical gaps in queer mental health, or the well-being of LGBTQ communities that are historically excluded and stigmatized, worsened.
In India, where mental health issues exist at an epic scale, the ask to focus specifically on queer mental health is often considered an overreach and privilege. It is crowded out among discussions and programmes.
Good mental health and well-being are critical for everyone, but the dangers are immediate and pressing for a few vulnerable communities such as LGBTQIA++ folks. In other terms, the crisis is much more severe in these communities.
To understand the challenges and issues the queer community face, Project Global Cure lays the below core themes on how the community is victimized in terms of mental health this LGBT Pride Month 2022:
Studies suggest that community, school, and family resources to support resilience will optimise LGBTQ mental health. Let's discuss the solutions to address the disparity in mental health statistics for the LGBTQIA++ population.
Despite progressive movements in queer rights in India, mental health remains a critical, unaddressed challenge. By some measures, 17% of India's population identifies as non-heterosexual. Yet, the access to these communities' information, support, and mental health services are as good as negligible.
These communities may not differ regarding access to services from the rest of the populations, but the health system is openly discriminatory, and they are much more vulnerable.
Despite having legal rights, they still struggle to be accepted and often accept themselves. The public address and overall social environment are oppressive, patriarchal, and encourage discrimination with the impending fear of violence within social settings and homes.
In such atmospheres, even coming out can be traumatic and lead to physical and sexual abuse, corrective conversion therapy, and desertion. Inherently, mental health and well-being decline in these circumstances, and queer communities live excluded at the fringes of society, trying to form their own support networks.
This is much worse if they are economically and socially disadvantaged, unable to build communities, without economic independence and/or access to supportive social networks.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for parental and familial support has become indispensable. Queer folks of all ages have been cooped up at home with their families, many of whom are either unaccepting of sexuality and gender or unaware of what it means. Project Global Cure understands their pain and helps the community heal by providing support and strength to its members.
Though the support has become harder to provide during pandemic times, leading to increased mental health issues due to isolation and fear, many organisations strive to help the community.
Social networks, group chats, and other forms of online socialisation can provide a sense of comfort to the community despite being unable to meet physically. Yet, many do not have access to these resources.
The past two years have reinforced the need for proper, affirmative mental healthcare globally for all sections of the LGBTQIA++ community.
Through inclusive narratives, affirmative counselling within communities, especially at the grassroots, can help gender queer individuals accept, discover, and construct their identity. Such initiatives need to be delivered through educational programs at the grassroots in local languages.
Even the mental health community is often biased and non accepting. Counsellors should be educated on LGBTQIA++ affirming treatment and the lived realities of a queer individual due to stigma and prejudice.
Private counselling should be provided while ensuring the privacy of individuals who live in dangerous or unsettling circumstances. Furthermore, mental healthcare should be accessible to those who cannot afford it financially. (Click here to know the importance of Yoga for better mental health)
In India, evidently, there is a lack of available mental healthcare. Project Global Cure aims to bridge this gap by engaging with the LGBTQIA++ community on mental health and self-care.
There is a need for LGBTQIA++ Awareness, Literacy, and Self-Care programs and Pride Events led by the LGBTQ activists community for whom this is intended.
Their urgent need of the hour for India is to act on LGBTQIA++ mental health. Community-led and focused programs and institutional awareness are required to ensure that the toxic cycle of prejudice is broken.
Open and inclusive conversations this day can help build a diverse and inclusive society for our future generations where one's identity does not define their place on the planet.