The Mental Health Of Gay Men In Context
Especially in these times, your mental health and taking care of yourself is super important and can be challenging for everyone. Unfortunately, some people struggle more with their mental health than others because society isn’t equally supportive of everyone and over time this has a detrimental effect. This is particularly true when talking about the mental health of gay men.
The mental health challenges that many gay men face are more than just being discriminated against or stigma surrounding their sexual / romantic identity (which is awful in and of itself). In fact, years of mental abuse (and being ignored is a form of abuse too) and feeling ostracized or treated as second class citizens can both worsen mental health and prevent healthy gay self esteem (though thankfully this can be undone with practice).
Because of the prejudice that many gay men face, it puts them at greater risk for mental health disorders (conditions) such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
The Mental Health Of Gay Men Is An Afterthought (If thought of at all in many health organizations)
This is not an exaggeration. When was the last time that you saw an intake form actually ask questions about whether someone is gay or straight? When did you see a search function ask if you would prefer a gay or straight provider? It is still in 2022 not easy to search for a gay client to search for a gay therapist or gay life coach..
The same even goes for many mental health directories, which should know better by now. It is very difficult as a provider to make it known (and searchable) that one is a gay male therapist AND it is equally difficult as a client to specifically search for openly gay therapists.
This is not respectful of the mental health of gay men at all! Erasure is a form of abuse and gives the message that one is ‘less than’ if they can’t even be represented by a health organization promoting health!
Why is this? I don’t have a good answer. If one is allowed to search for therapist by gender (and even this has many problems as this usually means narrow definitions of gender), then why can’t a person search for a therapist by sexual / romantic identity?
While no one can be truly surprised that the mental health of gay men is more at risk than those of the heater-normative world , it can still be rather startling to find out how far this truly reaches. Let’s dive in a little more.
Statistics About The Mental Health Of Gay Men
This certainly does not help matters at all. In one study, gay men reported being more unhappy
with mental health services than their straight counterparts. Unfortunately, many gay men are still facing discrimination and judgement by medical providers. In 2022. By professionals who are supposed to be putting the medical needs we have above all else. It’s kind of unreal.
What contributes to this? Well, part of it is a lack of knowledge that medical providers have regarding the health concerns of the gay community. But, it is also likely due to outdated ideas and assumptions. While the number of gay medical providers and therapists is increasing, it is nowhere near close enough to make a huge difference.
This is even worse for gay men in minority communities. Minorities, historically, already face a disparage of access to medical providers, let alone mental health access.
And yet, isn’t it a perfectly normal and natural (and reasonable) ask, for example, for a gay black man to want to be seen by a gay black man? Typically people with multiple intersectionalities have to choose (if they are lucky) with a provider that is at least a member of one of their groups.
An Increased Chance Of A Mood Disorder
Across the board, in another study, gay men are 2 to 3 times more likely to struggle with a mental health disorder than straight males. In a study done by UC Davis, it was revealed that gay men process homophobia internally. For most statements, gay men reported that they strongly agreed with the majority of them. Statements such as, “I feel being gay is a personal shortcoming for me.” “I have tried to stop
being attracted to men in general.”
In a world where we seek approval for virtually everything, gay men are more likely to feel as if who they are is not worthy enough because of what society tells them, and what the lgbtq+ community tells them too (sadly). All too often gay men are pressured by straight men to disavow their being gay and by the lgbtq+ community to disavow being a man. On tops of this of course, each person has their own beautiful personality traits which transcend any groups they happen to be a member of too.
Gay Men Are More Likely To Think About Suicide
Life is hard enough. There are already so many things that can bring you down in life that havenothing to do with your sexual identity / romantic identic. But let’s put this into perspective. In one 2018 study, it was reported that 34% of LGBTQ members thought about suicide in the year prior. That’s shocking, outrageous and preventable.
And that was just for one year prior. I’m not sure I even want to know the statistics overall over the past decade. Especially considering issues such as the pandemic, it probably is a truly staggering amount.
What Can Be Done About The Mental Health Of Gay Men Moving Forward
It’s awful that we even have to still be talking about this. It’s terrible to think that just the basic human right to live and thrive and be accepted, is still not fully realized for many gay men. We have to do better as humans. For our fellow human beings. That’s a good starting point. And we need to start actually talking about the mental health of gay men to make a difference.
We can never improve things for gay men if we aren’t starting the conversation about. We need better access to healthcare and mental health resources (and even just the directories themselves). For the stigma and taboo subject of sexuality to no longer exist.
But if you are a gay man, you shouldn’t have to wait around for either of these things to happen. There is hope, just a day before this blog was written google business allowed openly gay people to self identify their businesses as being gay owned. Go google!
Until the world becomes a better place for us all, one of the best ways to begin is by working directly with a gay therapist who truly understands you. Who knows how hard of a struggle it is to just exist in a straight world when our own very existence is constantly called into question and often tolerated at best, not celebrated like everyone else.
Please reach out to my Honolulu or London office to set up a Gay Therapy Test Drive session or to ask any questions. I’d be honored to help you on your gay journey to a happier version of yourself through either my counseling for gay men or life coaching services.
BTW: I’m not just ‘Gay Friendly’ or ‘Gay Affirming’ – although of course I am! I am a gay man and I know personally how hard it can be to be gay in a homophobic society and how hard it can be as a gay man to feel safe in society and therapy. I also know as a therapist who uses these same techniques in my own life (as well as helping my gay clients to learn them for their lives) that gay therapy really does help us do the work we need to do, to live the lives we fully deserve to live and celebrate.