Results from a new survey in the UK revealed startling information that a third of LGBTI people have experienced suicidal thoughts due to body image. This is more than double the rate of heterosexual people experiencing these thoughts over body image.
The Mental Health Foundation, in collaboration with YouGov, released their Body Image report this week.
Both organizations conducted new surveys this March. Overall, 4,505 adults in the UK and 1,118 teens responded.
As the report summarizes, body image has been linked to numerous negative consequences. People who have body concerns have also shown to have poorer quality of health, struggles with eating disorders, and higher rates of psychological distress.
How does body image specifically affect LGBTI people?
The report has a section dedicated to the relationship between LGBTI people and their bodies.
According to the report, there is a correlation between suicidal ideation and concerns of body image. One third (33%) of LGBTI adult respondents said they’ve experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concerns about their body image.
This statistic is more than double than that of straight respondents (11%).
Similarly, experiencing anxiety and depression around this experience is also higher among LGBTI people than straight people.
Other research and findings suggest there are different attitudes around body image between LGBTI and straight people.
In the research, authors have found heterosexual men are more likely to appreciate their bodies than gay, bisexual, or transgender men. This leads to sexual minority men facing higher pressures of attaining a certain body type. Such pressures can manifest in higher rates of eating disorders and depressive symptoms.
Among women, rates of body satisifaction are relatively similarly among all sexual identities.
The report also notes that ‘minority stress’ — consisting of discrimination, harassment and victimization, and internalized feelings like shame — can also affect body attitudes in marginalized individuals.
In the Mental Health Foundation survey, 40% of LGBTI said they felt shame because of their body and 54% reported low self-esteem. These rates are higher than they are amongst straight people.
In conclusion, the report suggests specific LGBTI sensitivity training and intervention against minority stressors.