Thu | Jun 21, 2018

Mental-health woes among gays troubling

Published:Saturday | June 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Mental illnesses are disorders of the brain caused by complex interactions between a person's genes and environment. Mental illnesses occur at similar rates around the world, in every culture and in all socio-economic groups, but how much has the Government done to play its part in sharing the necessary information.

With the people of Jamaica, the impact goes beyond numbers and affects real lives. It's in our families, with our friends, and in our communities. Having a mental disorder should not be any different than experiencing a physical illness.

A 2007 study of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Jamaicans found that they had disproportionately higher rates of mental-health issues than others.

Given the cultural hostility and the fear of physical violence many LGBT Jamaicans face, there have been many anecdotal reports of depression, anxiety, and stress that are cited as being ultimately responsible for causing some LGBT Jamaicans to flee Jamaica and seek refuge in countries that are believed to be more accommodating of gay people.

The risk of a mental-health condition, like depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder is almost three times as high for youth and adults who identify as LGBT - or those wish not to be labelled.

BARRINGTON WALSH JR

orlandowalsh1@gmail.com