The following is written verbatim from the the Lesbian Community Cancer Project:   Within the last decade, the relationship between mental health and sexual orientation has been researched more comprehensively. Studies have found that women who engage in same-sex sexual behavior and/or identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer (LGBQ), are at greater risk for mental health concerns than women who do not engage in same-sex sexual behavior. Specifically, women who identify as LGBQ often experience feelings of depression, anxiety and stress based on living in a stigmatized and homophobic culture, and may engage in risky behaviors (e.g., alcohol, drug, or tobacco use) to relieve these emotions. These risky behaviors are ultimately associated with negative psychological, health and job-related outcomes.

LGBQ women are also at increased risk of interpersonal victimization (i.e., verbal, physical and sexual abuse) compared to their heterosexual counterparts. As a result, LGBQ women may experience internalized homophobia (i.e., negative feelings or attitudes towards oneself for identifying as LGBQ, based on living within a homophobic society), which is also linked to depression, anxiety, stress and greater alcohol/drug use. For individuals who identify as trans-masculine or trans-feminine, the risks of mental and behavioral health concerns increase significantly.

It is important to know that, while these mental health concerns may be overwhelming or discouraging, these feelings and stressors are not your fault. Remember that places like Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC) are here for you, and provide health and wellness services that are specialized for the LGBTQ community.

Reference:  The Impact of Minority Stress on Mental Health and Substance Use Among Sexual Minority Women by Keren Lahavot and Jane M. Simoni.

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