Since 2018, being gay has been decriminalised in India. However, this does not translate into acceptance of the LGBT+ community. On a daily basis, discrimination exists in many forms.
One of the most evident and terrifying places is mental health institutions.
There is a lot of stigma attached to both mental health and the LGBT+ community. The intersection of these two leads to further discrimination. Most mental health institutions and platforms fail to treat LGBT+ individuals for their mental health issues; instead, they try to “correct” or “cure” their queerness.
In partnership with organisations across India, we asked LGBT+ Indians about their struggles with mental health, and five LGBT+ folks have bravely stepped forward to share their stories.
What kind of mental health support are people seeking? What are the available resources? What are the barriers LGBT+ Indians face when seeking mental health support? What does a support system look like in India? What kind of changes are needed?
This is the whirlwind of questions that these queer Indians are answering in their stories.
By elevating their voices, we are raising awareness on the challenges LGBT+ people face when seeking mental health support in India.
Listen to the brave voices of LGBT+ Indians as they share their stories of survival and resilience.
Content Warning: The stories may contain triggering content like domestic violence, conversion therapy, self-harm and bullying.
* We are not using people’s real names, for their own safety. Although these stories are being shared anonymously, they represent first-hand accounts of what life is like for the LGBT+ community in India.
Vasavi speaks of the intersection of caste, mental health and queerness.
Ambika was held hostage by her family and forced into conversion therapy.
A sixty year-old Ragini is questioned about her life as she seeks to legally change her gender identity.
John shares his school experiences with bullying and how they shaped his mental health.
In a breach of confidentiality, Raunaq’s professor reveals his mental health issues to the class.
Illustrations by Jyotsna Ramesh
From microaggressions and more subtle forms of discrimination to conversion therapy, LGBT+ folks in India face many hurdles when accessing mental healthcare. While there are non-profit organisations that are tirelessly working on building self-care resources and helplines for LGBT+ people, there aren’t nearly enough.
From these stories, it is clear that seeking mental healthcare in India is still a risk for many LGBT+ people. Will you help make sure that professionals in Indian private and public mental health institutions are fully trained to properly support LGBT+ people?
Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya (Health Minister of India)
We urge you to listen to these stories and understand the challenges the LGBT+ community faces, in accessing mental health facilities in India. You can help by issuing queer affirmative training guidelines for mental health institutions across the country. We request you to further conduct training to make sure staff and mental health professionals are fully equipped to welcome and treat LGBT+ people.