Mental Health in the LGBTQ Community
Anyone can experience a mental illness, but certain groups are more prone. And the LGBTQ community is one of those groups. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the risk for mental health issues for people in the LGBTQ community is three times higher than the general population.
Common mental illnesses in the LGBTQ community include depression and anxiety. Suicide rates are elevated as well, as LGBTQ youth attempt suicide four times more often than the general population. Depression in LGBTQ youth can often be attributed to bullying they encounter at school.
Drug and alcohol abuse is another concern. LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to be substance abusers than heterosexual youth. And the same is true for the rest of the LGBTQ community. Members have higher levels of heavy drinking than straight people. Many members of the LGBTQ community report substance abuse issues are often the result of using drugs and alcohol to cope with the stigma they face in everyday life.
People in the LGBTQ community also report that they have lower levels of satisfaction with their lives and lower levels of support than straight individuals.
As with any person who is suffering from a mental illness, LGBTQ people who suspect they have a mental health condition should see a therapist. However, LGBTQ people need one who has experience with treating people in the LGBTQ community because of the community’s specialized needs. Some good resources to find a therapist include the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s Provider Directory and the Healthcare Equality Index.
LGBTQ people can improve their daily mental health by finding/creating a support network. LGBTQ groups are great ways to do so, and there are national and regional groups available.
Though the LGBTQ community faces different obstacles in their paths toward a positive and healthy life, people in the community are still capable of overcoming mental illnesses through support networks and therapy.