Mental health in the LGBTQ+ community and how to protect it

If you don’t identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, many of us know and love someone who does. Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk of experiencing discrimination due to gender identity or sexual orientation. 

This can understandably have negative mental health impacts. The widespread and unique discrimination, stigma and bias that affects LGBTQ individuals results in stress and a higher rate of mental health challenges. 

Mental health is critical to healthcare and should be unbiased, inclusive and accessible for all. This includes LGBTQ+ mental health. This is why we strive to ensure our LGBTQ+ patients receive the best possible mental health care.  

LGBTQ+ community is at higher risk for developing mental disorders

Identifying as LGBTQ+ is not a mental disorder, but surveys show that the majority of the LGBTQ community reports struggling with significant mental health challenges today. 

Furthermore, many individuals experience a gap in health insurance coverage, making it even more challenging to receive the care they need. Mental health and LGBTQ is a complicated issue that deserves attention. Here are a few challenges that disproportionately affect this community.

1. Anxiety

Anxiety is a common mental health struggle, affecting around 1 in 5 U.S. adults. However, it’s even more widespread among the LGBTQ+ community. At least two-thirds of LGBTQ adults and 73% of LGBTQ youths report experiencing regular anxiety. 

2. Depression

Around 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience depression, but the LGBTQ community has an even higher reported prevalence. Approximately 75% of LGBTQ adults and more than 50% of youths report regular feelings of depression. 

3. Impact of family estrangement 

We all need the support of our family, friends and community to support our mental health as part of everyday life. Feeling rejected and unsupported can have significant impacts on our self-perception. 

Coming out is a highly vulnerable and personal decision. When someone feels their family is an unsafe environment or will be non-affirming, this adds to the anxiety around disclosing this information. Much of LGBTQ mental health depends on having the proper support and community to help prepare for and handle potentially stressful situations.

Our centers want our LGBTQ+ patients to know that regardless of how others may have responded to their coming out, we strive to offer a welcoming, inclusive environment with advocates for their health and self-worth.

4. High risk of suicide

With higher rates of anxiety, depression and potential for estrangement, the LGBTQ+ community experiences a high risk for suicide among youths and adults. Many also have high rates of psychiatric disorders and substance abuse. 

How can you support?

Supporting each other is important. Unfortunately, mental health is just one of many LGBTQ health disparities that people experience. Even a small act of kindness and acknowledgment can go a long way, as you never know what someone is going through but doesn’t feel safe to talk about. Below are some ways to support the mental health of the LGBTQ+ community.

1. Use correct terms when addressing someone

Rather than making assumptions about an individual’s gender identity, make a habit of allowing a space for them to provide that information safely. Individuals may choose pronouns like she/her, he/him, they/them or a combination. If this information is disclosed to you, use it respectfully when addressing them.

2. Respect boundaries

We all have boundaries that deserve to be respected, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are no different. If you’re unsure whether something is OK to do or discuss, ask them first. If they discuss boundaries with you or ask for something to be done or not done, be sure to respect these requests fully.

3. Advocate for change

There can never be too many advocates for positive change in our communities. Just because things have been a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean they’re the best or only way to do things. 

The only way to help move society forward positively is to become educated and involved in LGBTQ+ issues and advocate for your peers and loved ones. This could be participating in events, donating to funds and research or speaking out.

LGBTQ+ mental health resources 

If you need immediate LGBTQ mental health support, know that these LGBTQ mental health resources are also available: 

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 988 or 800-273-8255
  • Trans Lifeline - 877-565-8860
  • LGBTQ Adults Lifeline - 800-273-8255
  • LGBT National Hotline - 888-843-4564
  • LGBT National Youth Talkline - 800-246-7743
  • TrevorText - Text START to 678-678

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