LGBT Mental Health Risks Can Be Rooted In Workplace, Advocates Say
For the LGBT community, deciding "if" and "when" to come out can be very stressful whether it's a youngster or an adult in the workplace and sometimes that stress can lead to mental health issues. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
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The Ali Forney Center based in Manhattan is celebrating 10 years of rescuing homeless LGBT youth from the dangerous streets and placing them in safe environments.
"Many of these youth are stranded out on the streets and forced to prostitute themselves to survive and they're forced to sleep in subways and on roofs, parks and abandoned buildings and the terror and fear and stress of that is horrible," said Ali Forney Center Founder Carl Siciliano.
And such trauma often leads to serious mental health issues. The National Alliance on Mental Illness finds LGBT youth are more likely to attempt suicide and suffer from depression and anxiety.
Activists say equally disturbing is that when these young people become adults and enter the workforce they sometimes face similar trauma from homophobic colleagues.
"Those in the homosexual communities aren't comfortable putting up pictures of their loved ones for fear of exposing themselves," said Work Life Matters Magazine Publisher Lori Sokol.
Sokol researched dozens of companies and selected the top businesses for their pioneering leadership in LGBT equality. The list includes New York Life Insurance Company, Microsoft and Orbitz.com.
"They support and really lobby within their company for acceptance and support for individuals that fall into the LGBT communities and it really has to start from the top down," Sokol noted.
Activists say an increasing number of companies in the U.S. are incorporating LGBT issues into their diversity programs, but there's still a long way to go for both adults and teens who feel persecuted because of their sexuality.
To learn more about the Work Life Matters' special issue, visit worklifematters.info.