Understanding LGBTQ+ Health Struggles

Pride Month celebrates the LGBTQ+ community's resilience, diversity, and progress while highlighting ongoing mental and physical health challenges due to stigma and discrimination.
Understanding LGBTQ+ Health Struggles
Written by
Alike Team
Published on
June 17, 2024

Pride Month is a vibrant celebration of the LGBTQ+ community's resilience, diversity, and progress. It is also a time to reflect on the ongoing challenges that many LGBTQ+ individuals face, particularly in the realms of mental and physical health. Let’s take a closer look at some studies that underscore the importance of social support in mitigating these challenges.

Mental Health Challenges

LGBTQ+ individuals often endure significant mental health challenges due to stigma, discrimination, and social exclusion. Wedell et al. (2022) found that these experiences result in higher rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders compared to heterosexual peers. The constant stress from facing discrimination can be overwhelming and result in chronic mental health issues. 

Physical Health Concerns

Physical health is another area of concern for the LGBTQ+ community. According to Moagi et al. (2021), many LGBTQ+ individuals have limited access to healthcare due to fears of discrimination or encountering uninformed healthcare providers. This can lead to untreated conditions and overall poorer health outcomes. Regular screenings and preventative care are crucial but often missed due to these barriers. However, social support networks can play a critical role in reducing health disparities by providing emotional and practical assistance to help navigate these systems. Mereish & Poteat (2015) highlighted the importance of these networks in navigating healthcare systems and mitigating the impact of stigma and discrimination, as the LGBTQ+ community can experience psychological and physical distress depending on if their social networks provide comfort and support. 

Challenges Faced by Older LGBTQ+ Adults

Older LGBTQ+ adults face unique health challenges, including the discrimination that negatively impacts their physical and mental quality of life. Fredriksen-Goldsen et al. (2015) noted that these individuals often experience significant health disparities, making them feel a lack of fulfillment and social connection within their everyday life. However, social support and a strong sense of sexual identity can mitigate these adverse effects, enhancing their overall well-being, quality of life, and feelings of fulfillment. Older LGBTQ+ adults can maintain successful aging despite the adversity they face through social support and a positive sense of self. A positive sense of self can be achieved through the aid of social networks, emphasizing the importance of community support.

The Role of Social Support

Strong social support is crucial for improving mental health outcomes among LGBTQ+ individuals. McConnell et al. (2015) found that support from family, friends, and significant others significantly reduces symptoms of depression, anxiety, and loneliness among LGBTQ+ youth. For older adults, social support buffers the negative impacts of discrimination and chronic conditions (Fredriksen-Goldsen et al., 2015).

Community and Identity

Active participation in LGBTQ+ community groups fosters a protective environment that enhances a sense of identity and belonging. Buffie (2011) acknowledged societal prejudice and "minority stress" as factors that negatively impact the mental and physical health of the LGBTQ+ community. Buffie (2011) then emphasized that community connections are essential for mental health stability and growth. Supportive environments help individuals cope with minority stress, reducing the prevalence of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety (Sutter & Perrin, 2016).

Embracing Support: The Vital Role of Online Communities

As we celebrate Pride Month, let's recognize the importance of supporting the mental and physical health of the LGBTQ+ community. By understanding the unique challenges they face and the crucial role of social support, we can all contribute to a more inclusive and supportive society. 

During Pride Month and beyond, the journey of embracing and expressing one's identity can be challenging, but no one should have to walk it alone. Online communities play a vital role in providing a space where support, understanding, and hope flourish, highlighting the immense power of connection and the strength found in shared experiences. The power of online communities lies in their ability to bring people together, transcending geographical boundaries to create a network of support that is accessible anytime, anywhere.

If you or someone you know is part of the LGBTQ+ community, taking the first step towards finding your online community can be transformative. Find your community at Alike.Health and discover a world of support and connection. Join a community that understands and celebrates you, where you can thrive in a space built on shared experiences and mutual support.

By raising awareness and fostering understanding, we can help ensure that every member of the LGBTQ+ community feels seen, heard, and supported—not just during Pride Month, but all year round.

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