People in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community continue to face higher rates of mental health disorders than the general population. People who have any of these identities are more likely to have anxiety disorders, for example. As society at large works to create a more loving environment for these individuals, it is important to spread awareness about this issue.People who want to help achieve this goal should understand the size of the mental health epidemic in the community, what causes this issue, and how people in the LGBTQ community can seek help.
The LGBTQ Mental Health Epidemic
Up to 60 percent of people in the LGBTQ community will live with anxiety and depression in their lifetimes. This high percentage is up to 2.5 times more than for people who are heterosexual and cisgender. Because these anxiety disorders often develop alongside depression, LGBTQ people are also more likely to consider, attempt, or complete suicide. The risk of suicide is particularly high among LGBTQ youth and transgender people of all ages. Teens in the LGBTQ community at five times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers. And nearly half of all transgender people have considered suicide, as compared to four percent of the general population.
Why Are Rates So High in the Community?
The fact that so many people in the LGBTQ community experience mental illness does not mean that people in the community are weak or that there is anything wrong with them. Instead, it is a reflection of the way society treats LGBTQ people and the traumatic experiences LGBTQ people often face. An estimated 80 percent of all LGBTQ youth have been the victim of assault or threats due to their identity. Researchers know that each of these incidents makes it more likely that a person will consider suicide or self-harm.People in the LGBTQ community may also live with what’s called “minority stress.” Dealing with prejudice–both small and large–causes stress in that community. Both microaggressions and outright bigotry can contribute to this minority stress.
Coping Strategies for LGBTQ People
If you or someone you love is considering suicide, it’s essential to seek immediate medical attention. This may be through the Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the nearest emergency room. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is LGBTQ-friendly, and you can reach them at 1-800-273-8255.
Other LGBTQ-specific mental health resources include:
If friends and family are safe to talk to, LGBTQ people with anxiety should reach out to those people for support and reassurance. In some cases, loved ones are not safe to come out to. People in this situation can reach out to LGBTQ groups online and in person. Simply knowing someone who is supportive and loving can save a life.
Finding a Friendly Therapist
Some LGBTQ people with anxiety need more personalized help for anxiety and depression. Others may just need a safe space to process their emotions. In both cases, therapy can help. At LifeStance Health, our therapists are knowledgeable and compassionate about the issues that LGBTQ people face. They can work with people in the LGBTQ community to overcome anxiety while staying safe. We welcome people from all walks of life to find refuge with our therapists and get the help they deserve.