LGBTQ+ and mental health

LGBTQ+ and mental health

LGBTQ+ and mental health 1200 801 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 29 May 2021

This article covers:

  • What does LGBTQ+ mean?

  • LGBTQ+ and mental health

  • What support is available?

What does LGBTQ+ mean?

LGBTQ+ is considered as an umbrella term for the gay community. It is an acronym that refers to anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and anyone who might be questioning. The + sign is included for any other way that a person might define their gender or sexuality.

There are many other related terms not covered in this article, which you can find in the Stonewall list of terms.

According to the last survey by the Office for National Statistics, there has been an increase in those identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) from 1.5% to 2.0%  between 2012 and 2017. Also, young people between the ages of 16-24 years were most likely to identify as LGB in 2017.

Coming out as bisexual affected me in a positive way because I felt more at ease with my emotions and free to think and feel how I wanted, but also affected me negatively because my family members don’t really approve, and this made me feel quite alone as I am the only member of my family who is in the LGBTQ+ community.
Addison – Mindsum Peer Support Worker

LGBTQ+ and mental health

Positive mental health

Identifying as LGBTQ+ does not always mean that you also suffer from mental health issues. Embracing and being proud of your identity as LGBTQ+ can have a positive and powerful impact on your mental health. This can help you to feel:

  • More at ease

  • More confident

  • More authentic

  • A sense of relief

  • A sense of community and belonging

  • A sense of freedom for you to express yourself

  • A sense of improved relationships with loved ones

Poor mental health

Although due to the type of stressors that the LGBTQ+ community can come into contact with, it is common for people who identify as LGBTQ+ to struggle with their mental health. These types of stressors can include:

  • Homophobia

  • Transphobia

  • Biphobia

  • Prejudice and discrimination

  • Rejection

  • Isolation

  • Fear of coming out

It is extremely upsetting for any person to experience hate and discrimination because of an aspect of who they are. Because of fear, the person might also miss out on certain things, such as access to appropriate health care, which in itself might also affect mental health.

The latest study in 2018 by Stonewall found that 1 in 7 people surveyed who identified as LGBTQ+ avoided healthcare treatment out of fear of discrimination.

The survey and research overall suggest that people who identify as LGBTQ+ commonly struggle with mental health issues such as:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Low self-esteem

  • Suicide

  • Self-harm

  • Substance abuse

You might experience different challenges compared to others in the LGBTQ+ community, which can also depend on other aspects of your identity. This might include your age, ethnicity, cultural background, religion, physical abilities, and other characteristics.

No matter what your challenging experience might be, it is important to seek help where you can, especially if you are struggling with your mental health.  

What most helped me to come out in general was the fact that there are more people in the LGBTQ+ community now than ever before, and with all the support they are getting and how they would have made me feel comfortable with joining the community it gave me great relief and more confident with the choice of coming.
Addison – Mindsum Peer Support Worker

What support is available?

If you are in immediate danger or you are struggling to the point that you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, please call 999 as soon as possible. Here are some organisations who can also help you 24/7 if you need urgent help.

Working with a counsellor or therapist can help you to work through difficult feelings, relationships, and many other challenges that you might be experiencing. You can choose to work with an LGBTQ+ therapist, although not all services can guarantee a match with an LGBTQ+ therapist. You can find a list of organisations below, who might be able to help with this.

You can book a free initial consultation with a qualified mental health professional through our online service.

If you don’t feel ready to speak to a therapist, you can book a free call with one of our trained peer support workers, who have personal experience of coping with difficult feelings and are willing to guide and support you.

The thing I most found helpful is talking to someone. I talked to some of my friends and with their support it helped me come out to my family and accept myself within, knowing they would also be there to help me. And if you don’t have anyone to talk to, there are mental health websites where you can talk privately to a professional. Talking about issues deep in your head is the best way to get it out and more clearly.
Addison – Mindsum Peer Support Worker

If you would like to get in touch with organisations that provide support services for people who identify as LGBTQ+, you can contact:

MindOut– a mental health charity led by LGBTQ+ people to improve the mental health and well-being of other LGBTQ+ people through offering various services, such as peer support advice, support groups, counselling  and more.

Stonewall–  a charity who offer help and advice for LGBTQ+ people and their loved ones.

Albert Kennedy Trust– a charity who offer support for LGBTQ+ young people between the ages of 16-24 years.

Imaan– a charity that supports LGBTQ+ Muslims through online forums, where you can share and connect with others and ask for support.

Gendered Intelligence– a charity led by trans people to increase understanding of gender diversity and to help other trans people (under 25 years old) to live better lives.

LGBT Consortium– a platform that offers a database of existing LGBTQ+ groups, services, and organisations, which you can also search for based on location.

Useful resources

Mind

You can also read information about LGBTQ+ and mental health on the Mind website. You can click here to access the link.

Young Minds

You can read information about sexuality and mental health on the Young Minds website. You can click here to access the link.

Rethink Mental Illness

You can read information about LGBT mental health on the Rethink Mental Illness website. You can click here to access the link.

Click here to book free support sessions

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