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Behavioral Health

Addressing Mental Health Issues in the LGBTQ+ Community

According to a 2022 survey by Gallup, 7.2% of adults in the U.S. identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (those whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth). This percentage has doubled since 2012, to more than 23 million Americans.

Despite an increase in visibility, deeply rooted prejudices and oppressive laws still work to harm LGBTQ+ communities. In Florida, for example, Republicans are attacking gay and trans rights by banning gender-affirming care. They’ve also removed references to different sexual orientations from school curriculums in an attempt to slow education and acceptance. On a personal level, LGBTQ+ people may contend with:

  • Rejection — Family, close friends, colleagues, and faith-based communities may turn their backs on those who come out.
  • Trauma — It can include bullying based on homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, which is rooted in the fear of gay, bi, or trans people. LGBTQ+ members are sometimes victims of hate crimes simply because of their identity.
  • Substance abuse — Rejection and trauma can sometimes lead to substance abuse which occurs twice as often among LGB adults versus heterosexual adults. Transgender adults are four times more likely than cisgender adults (those whose gender identity match sex assigned at birth) to have substance abuse problems.

Aside from experiencing a higher rate of discrimination, LGBTQ+ people may have a harder time finding help for the emotional suffering brought on by discrimination. 82% of LGBTQ+ youth surveyed reported a desire to engage in mental health care services. Of those surveyed, however, 60% were unable to access care. Common obstacles included concerns with parental permission, health care costs, and the fear of having their sexual orientation discovered by others who may not support them.

Couple Hugging In The Kitchen

By the numbers

LGBTQ+ youth often struggle to maintain hope and cope with discrimination, according to the results of the 2022 national survey by The Trevor Project. The organization, which is focused on suicide prevention among gay and trans young people, surveyed nearly 34,000 people ages 13-24 across the U.S. Key findings include:

  • 45% of LGB youth have seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months. 14% did attempt suicide.
  • 20% of transgender and nonbinary youth have attempted suicide.
  • LGBTQ+ youth of color experienced higher rates of attempted suicide than their white peers – 16% of Latino youth, 19% of Black youth, and 21% of Native youth compared to 12% of white youth. 
  • Less than one third of transgender and nonbinary youth lived in homes they felt were gender-affirming.
  • 93% of transgender and nonbinary youth worry that gender-affirming care will be denied through local or state laws, while 83% fear losing the right to play sports with their peers.
  • 36% of LGBTQ+ youth report being physically threatened or harmed because of their identity.
  • Love and acceptance make a massive difference: LGBTQ+ youth who experienced acceptance and emotional support from their families, schools, or communities had lower rates of attempted suicide.
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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 basic 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

You are not alone. AltaMed is here to help you grow proud. Our Behavioral Health team is available to provide short-term therapy to help you overcome many immediate challenges. We can also connect 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.

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Addressing Mental Health Issues in the LGBTQ+ Community