Understanding LGBTQ+ Mental Health
The LGBTQ+ community celebrates the uniqueness of each of its members. But how does that uniqueness play a part in mental wellness?
September 25, 2023
People within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual and gender minorities community comprise a wealth of different backgrounds, viewpoints, ethnicities, nationalities, genders, and sexual preferences.
This diverse collection of people also has a higher risk of living with mental health conditions than the heterosexual and cisgender population.
The social stigma and discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ people create stress and hardship that can lead to mental health conditions. Such stress also makes it hard for queer people to seek medical and mental health treatment.
If you or someone you care about is struggling, you/they deserve help. If you are a care provider, you need accurate information to craft compassionate approaches to helping others.
Keep Reading To Learn
- Which mental health conditions are commonly experienced by LGBTQ+ individuals
- How stigma, discrimination, and violence impact LGBTQ+ people
- How to seek treatment for mental health issues
LGBTQ+ and the Mental Health Crisis
The United States is facing a mental health crisis. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people who experience mental health conditions has increased. For instance, 21% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020. Sadly, many struggle to find care in an overburdened health care system.
According to Mental Health America, 4.5% of the U.S. population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Of those, 39% reported experiencing mental illness in the past year. This translates to 5.8 million people or 1.75% of the total population.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community are more than twice as likely as heterosexual people to experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, according to the American Psychiatric Association. They are also less likely to receive effective, compassionate care.
It is important to note that identifying as LGBTQ+ is not in and of itself a mental illness or disorder. Instead, it is a core component of someone’s identity that makes them more likely to struggle with their mental health due to a variety of risks and hardships.
“Members of the LGBTQ+ community are at greater risk for mental health disparities based on many factors, not the least of which is minority stress—a type of stress that is experienced in a minority group on a daily, sometimes hourly or by-minute basis,” says Jeff Day, DNP, AGPCNP-BC, CNEcl, an expert in LGBTQ+ care.
“It adds up. It leads to what we call a social determinant of health, and ultimately poor outcomes for LGBTQ+ folks.”
It is crucial for LGBTQ+ people to have their identities and experiences validated. Whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally, it’s also important to understand LGBTQ+ mental health—and how to find effective and affirming care.