For LGBT People, Discrimination Still Brings Mental Health Challenges.

It wasn’t until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder. The recency of that decision still affects the LGBT community today.

James Dilley: You know, it wasn’t until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association, after a fairly lengthy period of debate, discussion, and advocacy, voted to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder. Discrimination, you know, comes in, of course, in many forms. And the psychological and the social implications of those are, you know, they’re not insignificant. So if you do surveys of physicians and health care providers about their attitudes towards LGBT people, 20 to 30 percent say, you know, “I’m really not comfortable providing this kind of care.” Does one come out on an application to college or to medical school or to law school or, you name it. These are questions that people struggle with even to this very day — 90 percent or so of LGBT kids definitely say that they’ve experienced this kind of thing on, kind of on a daily basis. Whether it’s being told or being called “faggot” or whatever, made to feel badly because they’re different. These kinds of things over time, sort of add up.

Discrimination, actual and perceived, then this expectation that develops for those events, results in lower self-esteem, difficulty with relationships, difficulty with one’s own, feeling happy about one’s own life. There is probably a two-and-a-half or so times likelihood of mental health disorders or problems among LGBT folks. Depression, anxiety, substance use in particular. In particular for women, actually, about three-and-a-half times rate of substance use disorders among lesbians and bisexual women. There are higher rates of, certainly attempted suicide among LGBT communities. Exactly how many of those are completed is harder to know. But I could certainly say just from our clinical work over the years, it’s certainly not an uncommon kind of scenario, unfortunately. There’s just no question that today is just 180 degrees different than the way it was when I was growing up in small towns in the Midwest. As a middle-aged man, suddenly I was able to fight in the armed services when DOMA went down in the '90s. Now, today, I can actually be married in all 50 states. The fact that that has happened over this period of, what, 50 years or so is really quite remarkable. As those negative attitudes lessen, I can’t help but think that there’s going to be lesser mental health problems among LGBT folks.

It wasn’t until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder. The recency of that decision still affects the LGBT community today. It opens the door to discrimination. Discrimination contributes to higher rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Dr. James Dilley of the Alliance Health Project discusses its effects, and the impact that a continued shift toward acceptance can have.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Apparently even NASA is wrong about which planet is closest to Earth

Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.

Strange Maps
  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Keep reading Show less

Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Keep reading Show less