LGBT mental health: It’s just a matter of orientation

The recent judgment by the Supreme Court of India, decriminalising consensual same-sex intercourse, enables the process of acknowledgment and de-stigmatisation of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community, furthering their assimilation into the society

Image source: Google
Image source: Google

Dr Kedar Tilwe, Psychiatrist, Sexologist and Geriatric Psychiatrist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, shares how to deal with the patients with most personal and private concern – ‘sexuality’

And also, how seeking mental health professional’s help will aid them in dealing with different turmoil and distress.

Sexuality, for a long time, has been one of our most personal concerns and most private of preferences.

Many studies have shown that the ‘sexuality’ of a person is not a binary switch, but rather a complex interplay of the biological and psychological make-up of an individual, along with prevalent social, cultural, and legal norms at that point. In essence, it becomes a matter of orientation rather than choice.

Recent years have witnessed remarkable efforts at societal and institutional levels, in the efforts to reduce bullying and trolling, as well as in developing tolerance and accommodative attitude.

However, people may still have to deal with it on an individual basis, subject to personal circumstances. It can lead to personal turmoil and distress if one chooses to suppress their true sexual identity.

It might make a person experience an enormous amount of stress, making them vulnerable to various mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, substance use such as alcohol, etc.

So, let us take a look at a few examples, where seeking advice from a mental health professional would be beneficial:

‘Coming Out’ refers to the process in which; a person of LGBTQ community informs their family, friends and support system of their orientation.

While most of the time, it is noted that, immediate families and friends accept the person; this phase is usually associated with marked insecurity, anxiety, and worries about the future especially as it can potentially alter the dynamics of relationships.

Family members of the person, who make their preferences known, may also experience feelings of shame, guilt and even a sense of betrayal.

Some may have difficulty in accepting the situation and might try to cut all ties with the person, because of intense personal anger or fearing societal pressure.

Often, these situations can be breeding grounds for major psychological breakdowns, not only for the person but also amongst the family members.

Bullying or trolling is another social demon that a person from LGBTQ community is forced to deal with, leading to depleted self-esteem and confidence, which can have a life-long impact on the mental well-being of the individual.

Accepting, one who is under distress is the first step to deal with the above situations. Next step is to reach out to an understanding member from your support system, for help, and guidance.

However, if you find yourself under stress, and need to talk to someone, but don’t know who; reach out to a mental health professional near you. Share your worries and concerns, all of us shall be happy to help.