In a ground breaking research conducted by the Grata Foundation and researchers from the University of the West Indies, Columbia University and Widener University, it was found that 45% of Lesbians, Gays and other sexual minorities under study in Jamaica displayed signs of Major depressive disorders. The research was conducted between June and September, 2007 and published in the academically reputed International Journal of Sexual Health in 2010.
The study noted the high incidence of negative and abusive experiences, felt by participants in the study as a result of their sexual orientation. It stated that “Fifty-three participants reported having had some form of negative or abusive experience related to their sexual orientation, mostly (42%) within the past month leading up to the interview, and a cumulative percentage of 76% within the past 12 months. The frequency of these abusive incidents was greater than three times per month for more than half of these participants. The most common negative experiences reported were name calling (85%), discrimination (62%), threats of physical violence (49%), and being harassed (42%); physical violence was reported among 19%. Some participants had multiple negative or abusive experiences. Among participants who had such experiences, a minority had ever complained to the relevant authorities (26%) or received counseling (11%) after these events.
The report goes on to argue that for the first time, we now have a clear indication that among sexual minorities in Jamaica, a negative relationship with family is an important risk factor for mental health problems. It is believed that ineffective communication that impedes disclosure or disruption of existing communication channels, as part of parents’ initial reaction, presages the ensuing disruption of family dynamics.
The study seemingly suggests that work being undertaken by groups that tackle the issue of homelessness among members of the LGBT community through family interventions will have a positive long term effect on the mental health of respondents. The study does not provide a comparison between incidences of mental health problems between members of the LGBT community and the generalized population. However, it does scientifically support notions that the Jamaican LGBT community suffers from high levels of discriminations which is being manifested in mental health problems
Editor’s Note: In November,2010 the Grata Foundation and the Pink Report merged. The Pink Report is now a Communications and information development project of the Grata Foundation