After the last few years of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, mental health has finally become a more mainstream topic. This has been a trend for a couple of decades now, but really accelerated in the last few years as more and more high-profile individuals were coming out and publicly admitting to struggling with things like depression and anxiety. Something many of us can relate to. What’s more is that this opened the door for us to have more honest and transparent conversations with our youth and the next generation. This is where things started to get a little scary. What was found out is that depression and anxiety are highly common amongst the younger generation. This is partially due to societal influences like social media and the virtual world, but also has to do with things like the climate crisis, a shared concern about the ability to build wealth when expenses are rising five times as fast as salaries are. Not only that, though, but the role that sexuality and gender identity play in mental health has become an important subject for us to be familiar with as well.
Society has certainly made leaps and bounds in the way of progressing toward a more equitable future, however there is still plenty of work to be done. Not only that, but some of these rights that were fought over for so long, now need to be embraced and fortified with additional protections so they aren’t taken away or lost. Same sex marriage, for instance, was really only officially legalized about a decade ago or so.
In fact, you don’t even have to rewind the clock that far to find yourself at a point in time where homosexuality and non-binary identities were considered certifiable mental illnesses.
Defining Conversion Therapy
When it comes to the history of mental health services and the way that ‘doctors’ have approached psychology there are a lot of dark chapters. When non-binary identities and homosexuality were considred mental illnesses, conversion therapy became a commonplace form of ‘treatment.’ However, conversion therapy is nothing more than a series of traumatizing practices that will impact the individual for the rest of their life.
Some of the truths behind conversion therapy as a mainstream practice come to light in the recent Conversion Therapy movie which stars Zachary Quinto and Dean Testerman. The movie itself follows the story of one such conversion therapist who has his eyes opened to the faults in the theory and denounces the practice as a whole.
The movie is slightly uncomfortable from time to time as it tackles the dark realities of psychology practices not a handful of decades ago. However, it also has an atmosphere of hope that carries theraoy through it, giving viewers an idea of how we can all work together to build a more equitable and inclusive future for everyone.
Before delving into the stats and impact of conversion therapy, it can be helpful to have a more centralized definition of what conversion therapy actually is. The Trevor Project, which is the nation’s leading organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQA+ youth defines conversion therapy as, “any of several dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, that could mean attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation from lesbian, gay, or bisexual to straight or their gender identity from transgender or nonbinary to cisgender.”
There is Zero Science Involved
The first statistic to know about conversion therapy is that there is absolutely zero science involved in conversion therapy practices. That’s right, conversion therapy is 0% science based and any accreddited or licensed psychologist in 2022 knows that very well.
It’s important to emphasize that conversion therapy practices involve no science whatsoever, because this can help people grasp onto the reality of the trauma that conversion therapy inflicts on youth.
LGBTQA+ youth is already a high-risk group for suicidal ideation, sucidial thougths, and suicide attempts. The average LGBTQA+ youth is about four times more likely to consider or attempt suicide than non LGBTQA+ youth. However, this rate immediately doubles when they’ve previously been exposed to some form of conversion therapy. This means youth who experience conversion therapy are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBTQA+ peers. The base rate triples if there are multiple spheres of influence attempting the conversion therapy.
For example, an LGBTQA+ youth who is subjected to conversion therapy tactics from their parents and a thearpist are twelve times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBTQA+ counterparts.
A Completely Cruel and Inhumane Practice
When it comes down to it, conversion therapy is cruel, inhumane, and dangerous. It can lead to suicide attempts, and several at that if the first fail. Beyond that, conversion therapy trauma can lead to substance abuse, and educational and disparity.
Conversion therapy is dangerous and in some instances, deadly. If you or someone you know needs help, don’t hesitate to take action.