According to a 2017 survey — the most recent by Gallup – 4.5% of adults in the U.S. identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. That’s more than 11 million adults. Of those, more than 4.2 million, or about 39%, report having mental health issues compared with 18% of total adults. 42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months. This includes more than half of the transgender and nonbinary youth.
Stress from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as new legislation that aims to deny LGBTQ+ people their right to essential medical services in certain states, has only increased the need for health resources. 94% of gay and trans young people, for example, reported that recent politics had a negative impact on their mental health
But even before the added hardships of the last year and a half, the LGBTQ+ community regularly faced psychologically-taxing obstacles that continue today:
- Rejection — Family, close friends, colleagues, and faith-based communities will turn their backs on those who come out.
- Trauma — It can include homophobia, biphobia, transphobia bullying, and identity-based shame. LGBTQ+ members are many times victims of hate crimes.
- Substance abuse — The rejection and trauma can lead to substance abuse which occurs twice as often among LGB adults versus heterosexual adults. Transgender adults are four times as likely than cisgender adults to have substance abuse problems.
By the numbers
Times are hardest for LGBTQ+ youth according to the results of the most recent national survey by The Trevor Project. The organization, which is focused on suicide prevention among gay and trans young people, surveyed nearly 35,000 people between 13 and 24 across the U.S. Some of the key findings include:
- More than 80% said COVID-19 made their living situations more stressful
- 70% said their mental health was “poor” the majority of the time during COVID
- 48% said they wanted counseling but could not get it
- 75% said they experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime
- Half of LGBTQ+ youth of color experienced discrimination in the last 12 months. That includes 67% of Black LGBTQ+ youth and 60% of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ youth.
As LGBTQ+ adults grow older, they often end up feeling more isolated and are twice as likely to live alone according to SAGE Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders. The loneliness can shorten a life by as much as 15 years while depression and anxiety can increase the likelihood of dementia.
Getting the right help
There are supportive, compassionate mental health providers serving the LGBTQ+ community. When looking for a mental health professional, it’s important to first consider a few things. You may want someone who shares specific parts of your identity. You may want a provider who is competent in LGBTQ+ issues. Transgender patients may need a mental health professional to write a letter of support for gender-affirming medical care or for changes to legal documents.
You will also want to gather referrals. Find local community centers or health centers, or other supportive and affirming organizations to make recommendations. Then, armed with that information, make the call to get the help you need.
Supporting you at AltaMed
AlteMed wants you to know that you are not alone, and we are here to help you Grow Proud. Our Behavioral Health team is available to provide short-term therapy to help you overcome any immediate challenges. We can also link you with mental health services if you need long-term therapy. For additional help finding mental health resources, visit CalHOPE.
There are licensed clinical social workers who speak English and Spanish available in our Los Angeles County and Orange County locations.
To learn more about our services, call us today at (855) 425-1777.