Report finds high rates of depression among Long Island's LGBTQ community
The LGBTQ community on Long Island experiences a high rate of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions according to a first-of-its-kind surveyby Stony Brook Medicine. Researchers called the results “alarming,” but not a surprise.
Over 1,100 members of the LGBTQ community on Long Island participated in the survey about their health care needs and experiences.
61% reported symptoms of chronic depression, 24% said they’ve considered suicide, and 44% categorized their mental health as “fair/poor.”
“Despite all these alarming numbers, only 35% were currently being treated for mental health,” said Dr. Allison Eliscu, lead investigator for the study. She said she was disheartened by the 60% of transgender respondents who said they’ve been treated disrespectfully by a healthcare provider.
“I’m not surprised necessarily,” Eliscu said. “I guess I was just optimistic that we would be doing a little bit better than nationally.”
She said LGBTQ people are not inherently prone to mental health conditions — they’re at higher risk due to mistreatment and stigma.
LGBTQ respondents who identified as Asian or Black — as well as low-income respondents and those aged 18-25 — reported higher rates of mental health conditions.
“This is groundbreaking,” said Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott. “Everything before this was estimates, it was guessing, it was speculation. But you actually have real hard data based on this survey asking tough questions and really getting into demographics and also getting to issues of what makes the experience of someone who is Black and gay different from the experience of someone who is white and gay.”
The survey revealed barriers for accessible transgender-related health care services like cost and travel time. Almost a third of respondents said their health insurance had denied payment for gender-affirming care.
The researchers said they’re using the data to revise curricula at the medical school and develop new sensitivity training for healthcare workers.
The survey was conducted online last summer in partnership with dozens of community partners. Researchers said it was the first comprehensive health care study ever conducted on the local LGBTQ population on Long Island.
October 11 is National Coming Out Day, first observed in 1988 as part of the demonstration in Washington, D.C. for LGBTQ rights according to the Human Rights Campaign.