14 July 2016
By Taliesin Cormach - QL SA
In a new report marking South Africa's mental illness awareness month, The SA Depression and Anxiety Group released a new study report that found stress, anxiety and depression affect about 10% of the SA population, while rates among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex citizens are between 31% and 45%.
The report says “the LGBTI community is more prone to suffer from mental health problems, including substance abuse disorders, which may be a form of relief from tremendous stress”. The Right to Care organisation said several variables are potential risk factors, including lack of self-esteem, the level of social integration of an individual into gay and lesbian communities, the frequency of victimisation, including hate speech and physical abuse and fear of victimisation.
The Right to Care organisation, through the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM), is supporting initiatives to enable South African healthcare professionals to competently deal with issues that affect the LGBTI community, including mental health.
The organisation says “despite our liberal constitution, South African gay men and lesbian women are still faced with discrimination”.
The COO of Right to Care, Ian Ralph, told the media:
“We all need to challenge homophobia (prejudice against homosexuals), biphobia (discrimination against bisexual people) and transphobia (prejudice against transsexual or transgender people) we witness – at work, at school, in the home, on social media or in our healthcare facilities and create more inclusive spaces that are tolerant of all.”