Seeking out mental health care can be a challenging task due to the persistent societal stigma against mental health, but that difficulty can be amplified a hundred times over when it comes to LGBTQ+ individuals.
Everyone has a sexual orientation and a gender identity, though discussions surrounding those topics are often kept at a minimum in many public spaces. Finding support when it isn’t advertised can be difficult, and factoring in the limited options catered for LGBTQ+ needs only adds to the challenge.
There may be hurdles to get over, but help is certainly out there.
The Mental Health Problem
Depressive thoughts, anxiety, and suicidal ideation are more likely to occur in members of the LGBTQ+ community in comparison to their straight, cisgender peers. Rampant bigotry and collective bias act as a barrier to LGBTQ+ people who wish to obtain mental health treatment, preventing them from accessing the appropriate care they need.
This feeds into a cycle of festering mental health issues that continue to go unaddressed as a result of the lack of care available to the LGBTQ+ community, which can be attributed to a collective societal disdain for those who identify within the community.
Attitudes that are dismissive or hateful only breed more insecurities and unhealthy thoughts in the minds of LGBTQ+ individuals, which elevates the problems they face and can lead to dangerous results.
Risk Factors for LGBTQ+ Mental Health
Coming Out and Rejection
Perhaps the most crucial aspect for LGBTQ+ people is the type of environment they inhabit. It has become commonplace for younger individuals who deviate from the cishet binary to “come out” to their peers.
Discussing sexual orientation and gender identity during the developmental stages of youth can have a profound impact on mental health. Supportive environments foster enrichment where an individual can express themselves with relative peace of mind, while a more hostile setting where they are rejected by those around them will lead to negative impacts on their mental health.
Facing rejection from trusted loved ones can be a traumatizing experience. With little or no support, people who identify as LGBTQ+ will find it difficult to navigate the world around them and may face cruel repercussions, such as harassment or even assault.
Sexuality Related Trauma
Discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals is a severe issue that should not be taken lightly. Homophobia, transphobia, and other bigotry that stems from a person’s sexual or gender identity can have devastating effects, which can often lead to the development of trauma.
The LGBTQ+ community is a common target for perpetrators of hate crimes. They face various forms of discrimination, such as stereotyping, denial of services, and physical violence. Unfortunately, this increases the likelihood of LGBTQ+ people developing PTSD relating to their constant discrimination.
Inadequate Mental Health Services
A serious problem that must be addressed within mental health care is the lack of services catered to the needs of LGBTQ+ people. Though there are providers who will accept patients who fall within the community, that does not necessarily mean the care they offer is adequate.
In psychiatric settings, sexual orientation and gender identity often become collectivized into one broad category that cannot sufficiently address the personalized issues that different individuals face. Other factors, such as race and socioeconomic status, influence the quality of care available to them.
LGBTQ+ people are a diverse group and the issues that members of the community face depend upon many different aspects. Generalizing their experiences is harmful and is not a useful approach in the field of mental health.
Mental health is an important factor in your quality of life, and putting it on the backburner can have severe consequences. Though finding adequate services can be a challenge for LGBTQ+ people, that does not mean it is an impossible venture.
Remember that help is out there. The following mental health resources may be utilized by anyone who is currently navigating a rough patch in their life or is simply in need of a supportive voice to show them that they do not have to suffer alone.
LGBTQ+ Phone Lines
- LGBT National Youth Talkline - 1-800-246-7743
- The Trevor Project - 1-866-488-7386
- Trans Lifeline - 1-877-565-8860
- LGBT National Hotline - 1-888-843-4564
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255
Many organizations provide therapy services and educational resources online, which may be preferable for some individuals who do not enjoy talking over the phone. These include:
- Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
- GLMA Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
- Pride Institute
- True Colors United
Never be afraid to ask for help when you find yourself stuck in a hard place. There are people out there who care about you and want to see you live your best life. Use these resources to obtain the support you need without fear of judgment.