This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. It's a well-known fact that poor mental health is a significant issue among sexual minorities: LGBT people are at higher risk for mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and self-harm.
We believe that this is a reality with which churches and Christians ought to engage. We have therefore recently posted a series of articles exploring LGBT mental health. We hope that these articles will help Christians to understand and respond well to LGBT people who experience mental health problems and that they will equip us all to play our part in working for the wellbeing of sexual minorities.
Here's a quick introduction to the articles.
This article lays some foundations for a Christian understanding of mental health. It looks first at understanding what mental health is and the reality that all of us have mental health. It then explores how the gospel uniquely equips Christians to engage well with mental health and to support those who face mental health struggles.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if LGBTQ+ people who were struggling with their mental health knew that an obvious place to turn for love and support was their Christian friends or their local church? As we acknowledge the reality of LGBTQ+ mental health, there is a part for us to play. Let’s step up and play that part.
The fact that LGBT people are more likely to experience mental health problems is widely recognised, but there is less agreement on why this is. This article explores the evidence that is currently available for potential explanations of the link. It then reflects on how understanding the link can equip us to play our part in working for the wellbeing of LGBT people.
Knowing a little about the potential reasons behind the high rates of mental health problems among the LGBT population helps us to think about how we should respond. When we do, we find that Christians and churches are well-placed to make a significant difference to the mental health of LGBT people in their communities.
Heartbreakingly, suicidality and suicide attempts are also more common among LGBTQ+ people than among other people. The claim is sometimes made that the historic Christian sexual ethic is part of the reason for this reality. This article explores whether there is evidence to support this claim. It also reflects on how churches and Christians should respond to the reality of LGBTQ+ suicide.
The evidence on this matter is far from conclusive, but this sampling suggests that there is no evidence to support the claim that the historic Christian sexual ethic directly contributes to LGBTQ+ suicides. There is, however, evidence that certain unbiblical beliefs and attitudes – such as pressure to seek change in one’s sexual orientation or active rejection and dehumanising by family members – can contribute. This highlights the importance of Christians continuing to seek to rightly understand and apply the biblical teaching on sexuality.