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Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community With Trauma-Informed Care

group of smiling young men and women who have benefited from treatment supporting the LGBTQ community with trauma informed care

Identity plays an important role in our lives. Through labels, we often find self-meaning in the words we and others apply to us. However, discrimination and prejudice can lead people to perceive who we are as different, less than, or wrong. Thus, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community can be both empowering and traumatic. Moreover, trauma can negatively impact the physical and psychological well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals. At Insight Recovery Center, we believe in trauma-informed care as a tool to address the role trauma plays in unhealthy coping strategies that impede wellness.

Mental Health Disorders in the LGBTQ+ Community

According to a survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 47.4% or 6.8 million LGB adults in the United States have a mental health disorder. As noted in an article from the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, the prevalence of mental health disorders in the LGBT+ community has a correlation with minority stress. Many LGBTQ+ individuals experience chronic stressors in their daily lives due to discrimination, prejudice, and victimization for their sexual and or gender orientation.

Also, LGBTQ+ individuals who are part of other marginalized communities are likely to experience chronic stress from stigma about their race and ethnicity, and or gender as well. Therefore, combining minority stress and other life stressors like finances creates a disproportionate amount of stress on LGBTQ+ people.

Direct and Indirect Impact of Stress

Listed below are three stress processes that indirectly and directly impact LGBTQ+ individuals’ mental well-being:

  • External stressors
    • Institutionalized discrimination
    • Interpersonal interactions
  • Individual expectations and vigilance
    • Expecting rejection and or victimization
  • Internalized stigma
    • Holding negative social attitudes about own identity

Moreover, chronic stress from stigmatization makes it more difficult to regulate emotions and build healthy coping skills.

Substance Use Disorder in the LGBTQ+ Community

There is a correlation between stress, mental health disorders, and substance use in the LGBTQ+ community. SAMHSA notes that 18.% or 2.6 million LGB adults in the United States have substance use disorder (SUD). In addition, 12.9% or 1.9 million LGB adults in the U.S. have a co-occurring mental health disorder with SUD. A reduction in mental and emotional well-being increases the risk of the development of unhealthy behaviors like substance misuse.

Moreover, difficulties coping with chronic stress impede people’s ability to process their thoughts and feelings in healthy ways. Therefore, avoiding negative thoughts and feelings or simulating difficult-to-access positive feelings can lead to self-medicating with substances. Furthermore, the prevalence of co-occurring disorders in the LGBTQ+ community highlights the impact of minority stress on marginalized communities.

The Impact of Minority Stress on LGBTQ+ Individuals

According to an article from the Psychological Bulletin, social stress encompasses not only personal events but the social environment as sources of stress. Thus, social stress or minority stress represents the excess stress marginalized communities are exposed to in their daily lives. Moreover, minority stress is detrimental to well-being as interactions with others impact the development of our sense of self.

Therefore, when others perceive our self-identities as negative, it can lead to adverse psychological harm. Being bombarded with indirect and direct stress by individuals and systemic practices in our daily lives takes a toll on our mental well-being. Within minority stress are the perpetuation of chronic stress, expectations of rejection, and internalized stigma. Moreover, the impact of minority stress supports the need for trauma-informed care to address the needs of marginalized communities.

Addressing Minority Stress With Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care, as noted by SAMHSA, is an approach to care that acknowledges the need to understand a client’s life experiences to provide effective support in recovery. Therefore, understanding minority stress and the prevalence of co-occurring disorders in the LGBTQ+ community provides an opportunity to offer support that considers the whole person. Our experiences impact how we think about ourselves, interact with others, and cope with life.

As stated in an infographic from SAMHSA, there are six principles of trauma-informed care that can be used to support long-term recovery for LGBTQ+ individuals:

  • Safety
    • Demonstrate and create an affirming space
  • Trustworthiness and transparency
    • Open listening
    • Create a space for clients to openly share their identity and experience
  • Peer support
    • Provide peer groups to aid in:
      • External validation
      • Challenge harmful self-beliefs
  • Collaboration and mutuality
    • Build individualistic care plans
    • Make space for clients to actively participate in recovery planning
  • Cultural, historical, and gender issues
    • Provide inclusive services to meet the needs of transgender and gender-diverse clients
  • Empowerment, voice, and choice
    • Create a space for clients to share their stories and needs

Therefore, trauma-informed care offers an opportunity to deeply understand the relationship between trauma and co-occurring disorders to support better health outcomes.

Trauma-Informed Care at Insight Recovery Center

Co-occurring disorders can complicate recovery when time is not taken to consider how trauma and each disorder interact with each other. However, at Insight Recovery Center, we believe in the value of a holistic and trauma-informed approach to care to support healing the whole person.

Through trauma-informed care, we can provide the necessary space to examine how the trauma of minority stress has impeded the well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals. Moreover, our holistic approach to care allows us to offer a wide variety of client-focused therapeutic modalities to help you develop healthy coping skills to build the fulfilling life you deserve in long-term recovery.

Contact Insight Recovery Center Today

Discrimination, prejudice, and systemic practices contribute to minority stress in the LGBTQ+ community. Daily encounters with minority stress can take a toll on the mental well-being of marginalized communities and increase the risk of unhealthy coping strategies. As psychological wellness decreases, difficulties with emotional regulation and building healthy coping skills increase. Therefore, a disproportionate amount of psychological distress can lead to the development of co-occurring substance use disorder and mental health disorders. Thus, the perpetuation of rejection, expected rejection, and internalized stigma of self-identity are traumatic. At Insight Recovery Center, we believe trauma-informed care is an invaluable tool for affirming experiences and supporting the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community. Call us today at 828.845.8325 to learn more.