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LGBTQIA+ Mental Health: What to Know

Updated: Jun 4

As we celebrate Pride Month, it’s essential to recognize and address the unique mental health challenges and substance misuse issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community. Pride is a time of celebration and visibility, but it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the struggles

and resilience of this vibrant community. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community often face

higher rates of mental health issues compared to their heterosexual and cisgender

counterparts. Discrimination, social stigma, and internalized homophobia or transphobia contribute significantly to these challenges and can even act as barriers to the help that they may need. The stress and trauma associated with these experiences can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.

In 2021, the Trevor Project conducted a national survey of nearly 35,000 LGBTQIA+ youth ages 13-24. They found that the overwhelming majority of survey respondents had experienced both similar and different experiences regarding mental illness. When compared to other data samples, formally a control group, they noticed an obvious correlation between both increased mental illness in the LGBTQIA+ community and also increased mental illness between people of color. Despite the alarming data collected, more than 80% of LGBTQIA+ youth, regardless of ethnicity, deemed a LGBTQ youth crisis hotline very important. This shows that it is understood in the community that mental illness is far more rampant than its counterpart, but also that it is extremely important to offer help to the youth, who may not be able to access it in other forms.

Substance misuse is another significant concern within the LGBTQIA+ community. Many individuals turn to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs as coping mechanisms to deal with the stress, rejection, and other psychosocial pressures they encounter. This increased vulnerability makes it essential to address mental health and substance misuse in a holistic and inclusive manner. 

To effectively support the mental health and substance misuse needs of the LGBTQIA+ community, services must be inclusive, affirming, and culturally competent. Creating safe and affirming spaces where LGBTQIA+ individuals feel respected is essential. 

Developing and offering programs specifically designed to address the mental health and substance misuse needs of the LGBTQIA+ community is vital. These programs should consider the unique experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals and provide peer support opportunities. Additionally, actively advocating for policies that support LGBTQIA+ mental health and substance misuse treatment, and engaging in community outreach to raise awareness and reduce stigma, are crucial steps toward creating lasting change.

Positive Directions offers a FREE Peers and Queers support group for LGBTQIA+ teens run by Quinn on Friday nights, with the link to sign up:

Here are some additional resources:

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