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PRIDE In Our Mental Health

PRIDE In Our Mental Health

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) community represents a diverse range of identities and expressions of gender and sexual orientation. In addition to these identities, members of the community are diverse in terms of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality and socioeconomic status. This diversity of thought, perspective, understanding and experience is a unique and valuable aspect of the LGBTQ+ community that can result in a strong sense of pride and resiliency.

While belonging to the LGBTQ+ community can have its benefits, it can also have unique challenges – and one of those is mental health. It is important to recognize how your experience of sexual orientation and gender identity relates to your mental health.

Although the full range of LGBTQ+ identities are not commonly included in large-scale studies of mental health, there is strong evidence from recent research that members of this community are at a higher risk for experiencing mental health conditions, most commonly depression and anxiety disorders:

  • Gay, lesbian and bisexual adults are more than two times as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health disorder
  • Transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals (people whose gender identity corresponds with their birth sex) individuals to experience a mental health disorder.
  • Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth experience greater risk for mental health disorders and suicidality.
  • LGB youth are more than twice as likely to report experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness than their heterosexual peers.
  • Transgender youth are twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms, seriously consider suicide, and attempt suicide compared to cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning youth.

For many LGBTQ+ people, socioeconomic and cultural conditions negatively impact their mental health, as they may face discrimination, prejudice, denial of civil and human rights, harassment, and family rejection. These impacts can lead to new or worsened symptoms, particularly for those with intersecting racial or socioeconomic identities.

Important Risk Factors of LGBTQ+ Mental Health

Coming Out
Positive changes in societal acceptance of LGBTQ+ people act as a protective factor for mental health. However, this shift in acceptance has meant that many LGBTQ+ youth “come out” or share their sexual orientation or gender identity at younger developmental ages, which can impact their social experiences and relationships.

For many in the LGBTQ+ community, coming out can be a difficult or even traumatic experience. It can be difficult to cope with rejection of something as personal as one’s identity from family or close friends, within the workplace, or in a faith community.

Homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, bullying and feeling identity-based shame is often traumatic and can contribute to a significantly heightened risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among individuals in the LGBTQ+ community.

Substance Use
Substance misuse or overuse, which may be used as a coping mechanism or method of self-medication, is a significant concern for members of this community.

It is estimated that LGBTQ+ youth and young adults have a 120% higher risk of experiencing homelessness. Many individuals of the LGBTQ+ community face the added challenge of finding homeless shelters that will accept them and experience elevated rates of harassment and abuse in these spaces.

The LGBTQ+ population is at a higher risk than the heterosexual, cisgender population for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. High school students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are more than four times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to their heterosexual peers. Forty percent of transgender adults have attempted suicide in their lifetime, compared to less than 5% of the general U.S. population.

Inadequate Mental Health Care
The LGBTQ+ community encompasses a wide range of individuals with separate and overlapping challenges regarding their mental health. Other identity factors including race and economic status can affect the quality of care they receive or their ability to access care. Additionally, individuals of this community may face harassment or a lack of cultural competency from potential providers. These experiences can lead to a fear of disclosing sexual orientation and/or gender identity due to potential discrimination or provider bias. Confronting these barriers and mental health symptoms with an LGBTQ+ inclusive mental health provider can lead to better outcomes, and ultimately, recovery.


Several mental health resources have emerged to help address this need. Whether you are looking for help for yourself or are a supportive ally, becoming familiar with and sharing these resources can be helpful.

Crisis Text Line
Text LGBTQ to 741-741
Texting the Crisis Text Line will connect you to a crisis counselor who can offer support. This resource is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Trevor Project
1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678-678
The Trevor Project is the world’s largest crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ young people under the age of 25. You can reach them by phone, text, or chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Trans Lifeline
Trans Lifeline is a service devoted to offering care and support to transgender people. It provides peer support from a place of experience since the organization is staffed by trans individuals.

LGBT National Hotline
The LGBT National Hotline is for people of all ages and offers a confidential, anonymous place to talk about issues including coming out, identity, bullying, safe sex, anxiety, and other concerns.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

LGBT National Youth Talkline
The LGBT National Youth Talkline, provided by the LGBT National Help Center, is aimed at teens, and features trained peer counselors who can offer advice and information on topics such as sexual health, coming out, mental health, and other topics