LGBTQIA+ Mental Health Care | Teen Ink

LGBTQIA+ Mental Health Care

November 15, 2021
By piperwilliams25 BRONZE, Nairobi, Other
piperwilliams25 BRONZE, Nairobi, Other
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

When asked the question “What is the most relevant controversy of our time that will need to be talked about 200 years in the future?'' to me, one of the most relevant controversies in Kenya during the year 2021 was the lack of support and protection for LGBTQIA+ people. Due to the countries' laws against nonheterosexual love, being a part of the queer community was very stigmatized and it was hard for people to get the mental and emotional support they needed. 

Having a negative mental state can make day-to-day tasks difficult or impossible, and undiagnosed mental illnesses can be debilitating. When people suffering from poor mental health do not have an accessible support system, the consequences may be harmful. There could be disintegration of mental wellbeing or loss of ability to do daily tasks. Having mental health services like therapy, support groups, or specialized mental health workers available can improve daily life, help overcome challenges, and even save lives. “Mental health services also reduce the risk of chronic diseases related to stress, anxiety and substance abuse” (PhysicianOne).

While these services can be expensive, they help the economy. Having mental health care widely available can increase the average income of those with mental illnesses and increases the general quality of life.

Negative mental health is something that is experienced by people with all different identities and backgrounds, but when psychologists examine mental health trends, some communities are affected by mental distress more than others. For example people in the the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersexual, Asexual or Aromantic (LGBTQIA+) “community experience mental health issues at higher rates. A recent study found 61% have depression, 45% have PTSD and 36% have an anxiety disorder” (Shawn Mason). 

While being in the LGBTQIA+ community is an aspect of identity that should be celebrated and something to be proud of, due to the prejudices embedded in many communities, being in this community can become something that is shameful, or a motivator for negative mental health. Some actions that may come along with being queer like having to come out, or facing homophobia, biphobia and transphobia can be very stress inducing and mentally straining. 

Those in the LGBTQIA+ community have a higher chance of struggling with mental health, but it is also difficult for them to obtain services to overcome these problems. If they express non-heterosexuality, their therapist may be more likely to refuse services. People who identify as queer tend to struggle more with mental health because of the relentless oppression from people who fit heteronormative standards. They are harassed and bullied until the mental tax becomes too much. But once they reach out to find support for them, they find inequality simply because of this one aspect of identity.

 Kenya is a country seemingly falling behind when it comes to acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community. The country still holds dated and homophobic laws against sexual relations between two people of the same gender with consequences severe as  fourteen years of imprisionment. “You will find that the punitive laws that exist currently in Kenya that are against same-sex love or same gender love are really inproportional. This is because they regulate very intimate relationships and no government should have that type of control” (Masuafu Okwara). As Okwara said, these laws are overtly oppressing a certain group of people in a way that influences societies outlook on people who identify as queer. Because of how the government portrays people who do not fit into the heteronormative relationship structure, being LGBTQIA+ is very stigmatized throughout the country. (The next sentence will contain heavy topics so feel free to skip ahead). People are physically attacked, kicked out of their homes, verbally assaulted, and tormented because of who they love. The government created this negative relationship with sexuality and gender which aids in maintaining heteronormative ideals,  but it is very harmful to queer people who reside in the country. Kenya also has a very stigmatized outlook on mental health. Seeking out mental health support is discouraged. even if it is desperately needed. Due to the harsh discrimination and lack of support, LGBTQIA+ people living in Kenya can have a hard time maintaining good mental health. 

Luckily, people are trying to make the living situation better for queer people in Kenya, the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commension (NGLHRC)  have lawyers working hard to dismantle the Kenya’s homphobic and non inclusive law, and they are working on creating accessible services.  But, what can you do to help Queer people in Kenya? The best thing that you can do to help no matter where in the world you live is to help spread awarness about the issue, this can be as simple as posting about it on social media or having descusions with friends and family. Remember, no matter how small the action is, it's still helpes oppressed people.  

 

 

 

Bibliography 

S. (2020, February 25). The Importance of Mental Health Services. PhysicianOne Urgent Care. Retrieved November 1, 2021, from physicianoneurgentcare.com/blog/importance-mental-health-services/

Mason, S. (2020, February 7). Mental health challenges in the LGBTQ community. HealthPartners Blog. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from healthpartners.com/blog/mental-health-in-the-lgbtq-community/. 

Williams, P., & Okwara, M. (2021, October 21). Interview with NGLHRC. personal. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, June 28). About mental health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm. 

LGBTQI. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2021, from nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/LGBTQI. 

Mugo, K., & Economist Impact Events. (n.d.). Interview with Kari Mugo: Lightning Round: Going Global (Pride and Prejudice London). other. 

DW News. (2019). The fight for gay rights in Kenya | What happened next. YouTube. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from youtube.com/watch?v=4iA0z4mR_lg.



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