Gender and Sexuality (LGBTQ+)

26% of LGBT+ youth say their biggest problems are not feeling accepted by their family, trouble at school/bullying, and a fear to be out/open. 22% of non-LGBT+ youth say their biggest problems are trouble with class, exams, and grades. 3.5% of the U.S. population identifies as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and of those, over 39% reported having a mental illness in the past year.

Individuals who identify as members of sexual and gender minorities experience increased risk for several mental health issues. For example, LGBT+ identified individuals have a 2 to 6 times higher lifetime risk of suicide and/or depression than the general population. Among trans-identified individuals, the statistics on suicidality are staggering. This increased risk for various mental health conditions in this population is mostly a result of discrimination, marginalization, and homophobia, biphobia and/or transphobia, rather than something inherent to having an LGBT+ identity. Discrimination may take several forms, including social rejection, verbal and physical bullying, and sexual assault, and repeated episodes will likely lead to chronic stress and diminished mental health. Perceived discrimination—the expectation of discrimination—may also lead to diminished mental health. LGBT+ adults may also be subject to discrimination with regards to housing, employment, education, and basic human rights. If you or anyone you know is struggling with gender or sexuality, or facing effects of discrimination because of gender or sexuality, it is time to reach out for help.

Therapy for struggles with gender, sexuality, or discrimination due to gender and sexuality may include exploring gender dysphoria, processing through past trauma and identifying present emotions. Additionally, working on developing coping and communication skills may be relevant to grow your support network and help others understand what you are going through.

I think I might be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community but don’t know how to approach this. What should I do?

Some LGBTQIA+ individuals say they have always felt different, but not everyone knows from a young age what their sexual identity is. Questioning, learning, and growing are all a part of identity development, and sexual identity is no different. If questioning your sexuality is causing you distress, anxiety, or fear, don’t be afraid to reach out to a loved one, a friend, or even a therapist. Internalized homophobia could be causing you some of this distress. Internalized homophobia is the negative effect of society’s attitudes and prejudice that can cause you distress and confusion over your sexuality. Since society may pressure people to be heterosexual, it may feel confusing or even “wrong” to be attracted to a member of the same sex as you. However, this can be overcome by self-compassion. Recognize that you may be judging yourself harshly due to society’s prejudice, not because there is something “wrong” with you. Be kind and accepting of yourself, and consider talking to someone about how you’re feeling. Loved ones, friends, family, and even a counselor can be a good support when you are having trouble accepting a part of your identity. Schedule an appointment with us at CARE here.

Can I talk to someone about my sexual orientation?

Yes! If you are questioning your sexual identity or identify as an LGBTQIA individual, expressing your feelings and experiences could be helpful for you. If you feel comfortable, talk to your friends or family about your identity. If you don’t feel ready to bring up your sexual orientation with those in your life, seeing a counselor may be a good option for you. A therapist can help you to explore your identity and decrease feelings of hopelessness or inauthenticity that you may be experiencing. It can be exhausting to feel like you must hide your true feelings and identity, and you should not have to struggle with that alone. Click here to schedule a session with a clinician at CARE. 

Are there mental health impacts related to sexual orientation?

Yes, mistreatment and discrimination against members of the LGBTQIA+ community is extremely common and can lead to negative mental heath consequences. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community suffer from anxiety, substance use, depression, and suicidality at higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts. Risk factors like feeling hopeless, childhood mistreatment, and the perceived feeling of being a burden can contribute to the development of poor mental health. Being rejected from one’s home after coming out increases your risk of depression by a factor of six, and your risk of attempting suicide by a factor of eight.

If you are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and often feel stress, anxiety, or depression, you are not alone. Support from your family, workplace, and friends can help reduce psychological stress that you may be experiencing. Additionally, seeing a counselor may help you to talk through what you’re experiencing or what you may experience when you come out. Schedule an appointment with an LGBTQIA-friendly counselor here. 

LGBTQ+ standS for

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning. Additionally identifies include Asexual, Two-spirit, Intersex, Pansexual, Agender, and Gender fluid, among others

HOW CARE SUPPORTS

Providers at CARE are trained to understand and respect people in the LGBTQ+ community

Using correct names and pronouns is important to us, and we actively try to create a safe and supportive environment

How does mental health and LGBTQ+ community intersect?

People in the LGBTQ+ community face mental health concerns at higher rates than non-LGBTQ individuals. According to NAMI, people in the LGBTQ community are at higher risks for developing mental health conditions due to the prejudice, stigma, and hostility that they are faced with. Seeking help for mental health can be a struggle, due to fear, discrimination, invalidation, or further harm on the part of professionals. Reluctance to seek help may be reinforced by past mental health practices that have actually harmed those in the LGBTQ community, such as conversion therapy.