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Mental Health and the LGBTQIA+ Community

In November 2021, the Vietnamese Community of Australia invited Happy Brain to talk about a very important topic – Mental Health and the LGBTQIA+ community.

The event celebrated differences and inclusion in the Vietnamese community, and provided a safe space for anyone in the Vietnamese LGBTQIA+ community to gather and share their experiences.

Speakers for the event included Happy Brain’s Principal Psychologist Roxanne Wells-Peris, Drag Queen Navindra from Sri Lanka, and Michael Gardiner from QPS. 

The event included multiple performances, including Navindra's dance to "It's Not Right But It's Okay" and "I Dream A Dream.” Friends N' Dance performed two songs, and Sandra from Columbia played her guitar. The event also included a mindfulness activity led by Roxanne.

The statistics

10 per cent of young Australians experience same-sex attraction, most realising this around puberty. 61% of these young Australians report experiencing verbal abuse and18% experience physical abuse. Bisexual and lesbian women experience higher levels of diagnosis or treatment for a mental health condition compared to women attracted to the opposite sex.

Young LGBTIQ+ people with a history of verbal, sexual and/or physical victimisation and abuse have higher levels of social and mental health problems than heterosexual young people – including sexual risk-taking, dangerous use of alcohol and drugs, dropping out of school, homelessness, self-harm and attempted suicide.

The Rainbow Women and Help Seeking Research Report identified that lesbian and bisexual women and women who identify with other sexual orientations such as asexual and pansexual have high rates of stress, distress, depression and anxiety.

Gay and bisexual men are more likely to experience depression and anxiety conditions, and younger men seem to be at a higher risk of depression than older gay men. Bisexual people had the highest rates of diagnosis or treatment for mental conditions, with harassment or abuse a key risk factor for poorer mental health. 50% transgender people reported having depression.

Many gay men living with HIV have lost relationships, social support networks, careers, earning capacity and a sense of future. These multiple losses make them more likely to develop depression and may also compound symptoms. Almost 50 per cent of gay men living with HIV in Australia report feeling depressed.

These statistics are extremely concerning and difficult to hear, but critical to know and understand for us to find a way forward and address the mental health crisis that affects this community. 

Honour and Shame

Young people are often stuck in a conflict between being the person they want to be and being shamed and/or rejected from their family due to cultural practices and expectations.

We often see the phenomena “masking” in autistic populations as well in Asian Culture where being “different” is viewed as being “bad.” This causes the person to hide and mask their true authentic self for fear of being rejected and exiled. 

Wearing a mask to maintain honour can severely impact a person’s mental wellbeing, resulting in depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm and substance abuse.

Identifying discrimination is the first step in changing this mental health crisis

The mental health implications associated with the LGBTIQ community is a significant worldwide epidemic. For things to change we need to identify when discrimination is occurring.

As a community we need to accept and embrace the LGBTIQ community for who they authentically are without judgement. We have to change how we think about them as a community and not try to change them for their differences. 

Through an acceptance-based approach, we can improve a person’s well-being and the world surrounding them.

At Happy Brain we believe that our clients are the experts in their own experience. We listen to their stories, validate their lived experiences and trust their expertise.


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