Mental health is a concern for everyone, but individuals in the LGBTQ+ community face unique issues and challenges. People who identify as LGBTQ+ commonly experience trauma that is harmful to their mental health and wellbeing.
- Widespread Descrimination. More than one in three LGBTQ Americans, and more than three in five transgender Americans, report experiencing discrimination of some kind.
- Bullying and hate crimes. Studies show that LGBTQ+ youth suffer far more bullying than their heterosexual peers. LGBTQ+ people also suffer high rates of bias-motivated crimes.
The stress of descrimination and bias takes a serious toll. LGBTQ+ people experience higher rates of mental illness, and higher rates of serious mental illnesses (those generally defined as long-term and involving substantial functional impairment), compared to cisgender people. As a result, the LGBTQ+ community suffers disproportionately high rates of related health risks.
- Homelessness. LGBTQ+ individuals often face rejection from their families, which can lead to homelessness. Compared to heterosexual people, they are more likely to remain homeless because of descrimination, and more likely than to experience exploitation when they are homeless.
- Suicide. Nearly 40% of LGBTQ+ youth have seriously considered suicide in the last year, according to the Grant Halliburton Foundation.
- Substance abuse. LGBTQ+ populations disproportionately experience substance use disorders.
LGBTQ+ individuals also face unique challenges in getting mental health resources and support. Consequently, they don’t always feel comfortable discussing their mental health issues with their healthcare providers. As many as 15% of LGBTQ Americans, and 30% of transgender individuals, report postponing or avoiding medical treatment due to discrimination, according to the Center for American Progress. A third of transgender individuals reported that they had to educate their doctor about transgender individuals in order to receive appropriate care.
Fortunately, there are mental health resources for the LGBTQ+ community. Whether you’re a member of the community or simply a concerned friend, you can turn to the following resources for getting help.
General Resources for LGBTQ Mental Health
It can be overwhelming to look for support online when you’re dealing with a mental health issue. Here are some general resources for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community who needs help with any kind of mental health concern.
- The Mental Health Coalition Resource Sheet: A listing of different organizations and resources dedicated to LGBTQ mental health.
- National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI): A great source for statistics and information on mental health for the LGBTQ+ community and allies.
Support for LGBTQ+ Youth
Young people within the LGBTQ+ community are often struggling with a huge number of stressors, from bullying to grappling with new identities and navigating family relationships.
In addition to the normal insecurities and concerns of adolescence, hostility from the external environment can have a big impact on youth LGBTQ+ mental health.
Here are some links for young people who are experiencing mental health issues or contemplating suicide.
- The Trevor Project: A youth-specific organization aimed at supporting the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ youth. In addition to resources and a hotline staffed by trained counselors, The Trevor Project has been a leader in advocating for LGBTQ mental health.
- CDC Resource Roundup: Government resource list specifically for LGBTQ+ youth.
- Supporting Black LGBTQ Youth Mental Health: A guide from the Trevor Project specifically for Black youth, who face additional layers of discrimination and may require more and different support.
Resources for Coming Out
- Human Rights Campaign: Number of valuable resources for coming out and living authentically. Resources include coming out to your doctor, coming out at work, and coming out within a religious community.
- UC Davis LGBTQIA Resource Center: Learn more about lGBTQIA identity and whether or not coming out is right for you.
- Planned Parenthood: Comprehensive guide on sexual orientation, understand what your sexual orientation is and the potential risks and benefits of coming out.
Resources for Educators
Educators play a huge role in their students’ lives and may be able to provide support for LGBTQ+ mental health when students do not have supportive families.
Here are some resources for educators who want to make a difference and help these students thrive.
- National Education Association: Blog with bite-sized tips, statistics, and resource round-ups for educators who want to help support LGBTQ+ mental health for students of all ages.
- Queer in Your Classroom: Helpful hints from publisher Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt about making the classroom a supportive and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ students.
- Distance Learning Checklist: A guide and checklist for supporting LGBTQ+ students in virtual learning from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
- Trans Lifeline: A hotline specifically for and run by the trans community. Offering support, resources, and help when it is unsafe to call the police or 911.
- LGBT National Hotline: An all-ages, anonymous support line for the LGBTQ community. Although not available 24 hours a day, it can provide support for anyone who needs to talk.
- Crisis Text Line: The crisis text line breaks down barriers by offering another communication option for people in crisis. Text in and get connected to a crisis counselor right away.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Suicidal thoughts are serious and should be taken seriously. If you are in crisis, call this hotline immediately to get support.
Ways for Allies to Help Support LGBTQ Mental Health
If you are not part of the LGBTQ+ community but you would like to help advocate for mental health support, there’s a lot you can do.
- Trevor Ally Training: Mostly geared toward educators and healthcare workers, the Trevor Ally Training is a course providing tools, information, and scenarios for people who want to become better allies.
- 5 Ways to Be an LGBTQ Ally: A blog post with key tips on becoming an effective ally for the LGBTQ+ community. Most important? Listen!
- Counseling Degrees: If you are passionate about making mental health support available for the LGBT community, then you might even consider making a career out of it. There are lots of counseling degrees to choose from, but this resource can help you make sense of the options.
Finding the Right Counselor
If you need mental health support, it’s important to get help from a professional you can trust. Talking with friends and family can help you in some ways, but only a trained counselor can help you develop long-term strategies and offer support like medication, if necessary.
Finding the right counselor can be a challenging process. If you are struggling, there are people willing to help.
If you are a friend or family member of someone in the LGBTQ+ community who is struggling, providing assistance in finding resources and connecting your friend with skilled therapists can make a huge difference.
You are not alone! Don’t be afraid to reach out if you are struggling with your mental health.