LGBT people are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic health conditions. These findings, confirmed in a journal published by the University of Washington, outlines the general greater risk of adverse health that those in the LGBT community face. There are many reasons for this, of course, ranging from the inaccessibility of good quality healthcare for those in an often sidelined community, through to the fact that mental health conditions are all too common in the LGBT community, often owing to trauma and stress in early years. Taking control of your health and securing a better future for your physical and mental wellbeing starts with friends and family.

Protecting yourself

Given that members of the LGBT community are more likely to experience chronic health conditions both seen and unseen, it makes sense to take steps to protect yourself on a daily basis. One important tool is the medical warning band. Using the red color to signify an underlying health condition, these show medical responders and other sources of help that the person in question is diagnosed with a condition, the information concerning which will be available on the band. These bands are effective; Healthline outlines how emergency workers will look for signals as to a condition once vitals have been checked, and this will often inform the primary care someone receives.

Informing your community

Mental health issues are one of the primary problems that LGBT people face. According to a study analysed by the BBC, LGBT people are more than twice as likely to experience mental health concerns compared to heterosexual peers. The reasons for this are clear; social stigma, trauma in childhood and ongoing ostracisation from society, which often doesn’t understand sexuality properly. Breaking the stigma is a crucial part in reducing stress; it not only helps others to understand and care for those diagnosed with mental health conditions better, but will enable you the space to start healing and caring for your long-term health.

Access to care

Many LGBT community members do not have even access to care, owing to legal or societal barriers. Approaching this is important, and finding alternatives a key part of self-care. In communities and countries where there are barriers related to prejudice, it’s important to look to NGOs and other bodies that will help to provide care where it is otherwise restricted. Increasingly, big-name NGOs like the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières have sought to make more healthcare available to those who need it most, in LGBT communities, and without the stigma and fear of harm associated with mainstream medical care. This is a crucial step for many LGBT people while society remains uneven.

Protecting your health is important regardless of your identity. The enhanced risk of medical problems that LGBT face is often caused by societal attitudes, yet, it also necessitates a rigorous system to help rectify those problems. More is being done every year in most countries, but in the meanwhile, it’s important for the LGBT community to look to provide for itself.