LGBTQ+ Mental Health 

By Ashley Barnes

The LGBTQ+ community.

Before understanding LGBTQ+ mental health, we must understand the community and their needs. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersexed, asexual (LGBTQIA+) community describes a diverse range of identities and expressions of gender and sexual orientation; oftentimes, this larger community is also referred to as the LGBTQ+ community. There are many sub communities which have unique experiences and challenges. In addition to these various identities and expressions, a person’s intersectionality (the overlapping aspects of a person’s identity such as race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion) impacts how they experience the world.

LGBTQ+ mental health.

It is important to note how different aspects of our identities relate to our mental health; for those belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, gender expression and sexual orientation may greatly influence mental health. Though not all identities’ mental health has been researched, studies have found that LGB adults are more than twice as likely to experience a mental health condition than heterosexual adults; similarly, transgender adults are almost four times as likely to experience a mental health condition than cisgender individuals (NAMI, 2021). LGB youth also report experiencing feelings of sadness and hopelessness which are more frequent than their heterosexual peers; compared to cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and questioning youth, transgender youth are twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms, consider suicide and attempt suicide (NAMI, 2021). According to the American Psychiatric Association, LGBTQ+ individuals “are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance misuse compared with heterosexual individuals” (2021).

Though the LGBTQ+ community is composed of many strengths, the community is also riddled with higher risk of presenting with mental health conditions. We must consider that this is largely do to a long history of discrimination against those belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, which entails homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, hate crimes directed at these communities, harassment, physical and emotional abuse, and bullying. This trauma and the often resulting identity-based shame contribute to mental health issues in the community. Further, when LGBTQ+ individuals seek help for their mental health, many have been met with harassment or lack of cultural competence from physicians which further contributes to marginalization. 

How to help.

It is critical that mental health providers be culturally competent and LGBTQ+-friendly to provide a welcoming environment to those belonging to the community. In this way, mental health professionals can be allies while also combatting LGBTQ+-related discrimination, providing competent care to all patients. When searching for a mental health provider, it may be easier to find those who have a general competency in LGBTQ+ issues than those who specialize in LGBTQ+ care, though many psychiatrists and therapists do specialize in LGBTQ+ care. Mental health providers often outline their experience or specialization on their company websites or online profiles on Psychology Today. For transgender individuals seeking a mental health provider to write a letter of support for gender affirming medical care or legal documentation change, it is advised to seek a provider who understands the insurance and legal requirements of such support letters (NAMI, 2021). In sum, seeking help from affirming clinicians makes the healing journey more inviting, comfortable, and inclusive. 




American Psychiatric Association. (2021). Diversity & Health Equity Education. APA. Retrieved December 30, 2021, from 

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2021). LGBTQI. NAMI. Retrieved December 30, 2021, from