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Shedding Light on LGBTQ+ Mental Health

More than 7% of adults in the U.S. now identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. But even as the LGBTQ community grows and strengthens, it faces a concerning crisis: a high prevalence of mental health issues and large treatment gaps.

By the Numbers

  • 2x Gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults are twice as likely to experience mental health issues.
  • 4x Transgender people are four times more likely to experience mental health issues.
  • 9x Transgender adults are nearly nine times more likely to attempt suicide.
  • 46% Almost half of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment.

Mental Health Risk Factors

Despite what the numbers may suggest, a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity alone are not what puts them at risk for mental health issues. Rather, their increased risk comes from factors including:

  • Rejection or lack of support from family
  • Lack of a supportive social circle
  • Feeling the need to hide one’s identity
  • Lack of gender-affirming or queer-competent healthcare
  • Anti-LGBTQ legislation
  • Bullying and acts of violence
  • Experiencing discrimination in the workplace and other settings

Substance Misuse in the LGBTQ+ Community

Facing a variety of external stressors and a lack of appropriate care, many LGBTQ people turn to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. However, substance use disorders are strongly associated with suicidality among LGB people.

  • 15% of LGBQ adults develop an alcohol or drug use disorder.
  • 6.7% of LGB adults misused opioids in 2020.
  • Among LGB adults with substance use disorders, 64.6% struggle with alcohol, 51.6% with illicit drugs, and 16.2% with both.

Taking Care of Your Mental Wellness

Your mental state may depend on many factors, but you can take charge of it by focusing on those you can control.

  • Find competent care.

    Search for therapists and healthcare providers with LGBTQ-specific training and experience.

  • Make strong connections.

    Prioritize healthy relationships with those you can be authentic, open, and honest with. With everyone else, maintain firm boundaries.

  • Take care of your body.

    Eating a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep (7–9 hours each night), and getting regular exercise are crucial for managing stress.

Your health is worth it, so don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself when needed.

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