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.Get More Tips
- 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Free and confidential support via phone, text, or lie chat for people in crisis or distress, 24/7.
- Mental Health Tests Free online screenings to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. Mental Health America
- LGBT National Help Center Safe, free, and confidential hotlines and online chat programs from highly trained LGBTQIA+ volunteers.
- Trans Lifeline A grassroots hotline offering direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis.
- The Trevor Project A confidential suicide hotline providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ people.
- SAGE LGBTQ+ Elder Hotline Free and confidential support via phone for older LGBTQ+ people and their caregivers, in English & Spanish, 24/7.