As we continue to explore the impact of trauma and stress on mental health, today we will be taking a closer look at mental health and LGBTQ children and youth. Any conversation about the mental health of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth needs to be understood within a complicated historical perspective. It wasn’t until 1973 and after considerable debate that homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a classified mental illness. Sadly, that decision by the American Psychiatric Association didn’t end the debate. Even today so-called conversion therapy is allowed in a plurality of states in the US even though all expert bodies have denounced it as abusive and harmful, increasing suicidal risk in those subjected to it.
Dr. Judd Marmor was President of the American Psychiatric Association when homosexuality was first declassified as a mental illness. He wrote, “In a society like ours where homosexuals are uniformly treated with disparagement or contempt – to say nothing about outright hostility – it would be surprising indeed if substantial numbers of them did not suffer from an impaired self-image and some degree of unhappiness from their stigmatized status. It is manifestly unwarranted and inaccurate, however, to attribute (this) to intrinsic aspects of homosexuality itself.”
Scientific data does indeed demonstrate the vulnerability of our LGBTQ youth. As reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
- LBGTQ youth are twice as likely to endorse persistent sadness and feelings of hopelessness;
- They are four times as likely to have attempted suicide;
- Twice has likely to misuse alcohol and drugs, and;
- Have a greatly heightened risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In this episode, Patricia speaks with Dr. Tiffany Dawson about mental health and LGBTQ+ youth. Tiffany is a Licensed Psychologist and the Program Manager of The Guidance Center’s Compton Program. She and her staff serve children and families from the communities in and surrounding Compton, one of the most under-resourced and highest need areas in the county.
In My Backyard is brought to you by The Guidance Center, a children’s mental health agency in Long Beach, CA. In My Backyard is produced by Tricia Costales and Matthew Murray. Thank you to Jay Vincent B for original music. All other music licensed through SoundStripe. Thank you to our listeners and supporters.
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