Supporting Mental Health in the LGBTQ Communities
Although people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) don’t share the same experiences, this diverse community may face the added burden of discrimination, prejudice, rejection, and denial of their civil and human rights along with the stigma of living with a mental illness.
Almost four percent of adults in the U.S. identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and approximately 1.3 percent identify as transgender. LGBTQ individuals are more than three times as likely as heterosexuals to have a mental health condition. Over 39% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults reported experiencing a mental illness in the past year. In contrast to people who identify as straight:
- LGBTQ individuals are almost three times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance misuse.
- LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide, have suicidal thoughts, and engage in self-harm.
- Thirty-eight to sixty-five percent of transgender individuals have suicidal ideations.
Personal, family, and social acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity affects the mental health and personal safety of LGBTQ individuals (Healthypeople.gov). LGBTQ youth who are out to their immediate families are more likely to report being happy than those who are not out (Human Rights Campaign). One way to be supportive is to educate ourselves about the LGBTQ community and be mindful of hurtful messages we may be inadvertently sending through our daily interactions with people.
Barriers to Mental Health Care
Addressing the barriers LGBTQ individuals encounter in mental health care is essential to improving their mental and physical wellbeing. Mental Health America provides tips and search tools to identify inclusive and culturally competent mental health providers. Having a sensitive and caring mental health provider can make a difference in ensuring that LGBTQ patients have a positive experience during their care and are more likely to seek continuous care.