LGBTQ mental health
Some people identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans. Other people don’t feel that they necessarily fit into the traditional categories of gender and sexuality. Some people who identify as LGBT may experience difficulty that affect their health and well-being.
HOW BAD IS IT?
Being LGBT does not automatically mean that you will have mental health issues. However, a review of studies on mental health issues in the LGBT community found the following:
- LGBT people are more at risk of suicidal behaviour and self-harm than non-LGBT people
- almost half of trans people in Britain have attempted suicide at least once; 84% have thought about it.
- gay and bisexual men are four times more likely to attempt suicide across their lifetime than the rest of the population
- half of black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people state that they’ve faced discrimination within the LGBT community
- a third of bisexual people say they can’t be open with anyone in their family
COULD THERAPY HELP?
It might not be easy to talk about, but getting help with issues you may be struggling to deal with on your own is one of the most important things you can do.
Talking with a therapist trained to work with LGBT people may help you deal with issues such as:
- difficulty accepting your sexual orientation
- coping with other people’s reactions
- feeling your body does not reflect your true gender (gender dysphoria)
- low self-esteem
- suicidal thoughts
- depression from long-term effects of bullying and discrimination
- hostility or rejection from family, friends or your community
- fear of violence in public places
You may benefit from getting help if you feel tired or lack energy, shut yourself away from people, use alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings or harm yourself.
WHO CAN HELP?
You may find in the first instance, talking to your GP is beneficial. Some doctors may know what help is available locally and can help you decide which treatment is best for you.
However, we understand it can be difficult seek help – Stonewall reported in 2018 that one in seven LGBT people in Britain avoid seeking healthcare for fear of discrimination. If you don’t feel comfortable going to your GP initially, there’s lots of LGBTQ+ orientated mental health organisations that can help, including:
MindOut – “… a mental health service run by and for lesbians, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people with experience of mental health issues”
Pink Therapy – “…the UK’s largest independent therapy organisation working with gender and sexual diversity clients.”
Switchboard – An LGBT+ Helpline that’s “..a safe space for anyone to discuss anything, including sexuality, gender identity, sexual health and emotional wellbeing.” All volunteers identify as LGBT+.
MindLine Trans+ – “…is a confidential emotional, mental health support helpline for people who identify as Transgender, Agender, Gender Fluid, Non-binary”. They also offer support for family and friends to help signpost to services and resources. They can be called on 0300 330 5468.
There are lots of national and local services that offer support for LGBT people. Consortium is a great resource for finding LGBT resources both nationally and locally to you.
If you’re based in the United States, Drugwatch helpfully has a page dedicated to LGBTQ+ health, including mental health. You can find some links to dedicated Mental Health resources, as well as tips on seeking out an LGBTQ+ friendly healthcare provider with links to organisations dedicated to advancing equal access to health care.