Pride Month 2023 – LGBTQIA+ People And Their Mental Health

As we say goodbye to Pride Month 2023, which ended at the end of last week, My Mind News presents our one-stop guide to all things LGBTQIA+ related to mental health.

What does LGBTQIA+ mean?

Being LGBTQIA+ doesn’t automatically mean you will experience a mental health problem. But LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to develop a mental health problem or experience poor mental health due to their life experiences.

In this article, My Mind News looks at the issues people in these communities may face and how you can manage your mental health as part of these communities.

LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and plus. Different people prefer the use of different acronyms as they identify themselves in different ways, and some people may prefer a different term to LGBTQIA+.

What does trans mean?

Trans is a term that describes people who have a gender that’s different from the sex they were assigned at birth, either male, female, or intersex.

What does the ‘+’ stand for?

The plus (+) recognizes that many people don’t identify as LGBTQIA+ but do not fit into traditional categories of gender or sexuality.

What is pansexual?

Bisexual people may identify as ‘Pansexual’ or ‘Pan’ as they feel romantic and sexual attraction to people regardless of their gender identity or sex.

LGBTQIA+ and mental health

A review of studies on mental health issues in LGBTQIA+ communities found that LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to experience poor mental health or mental illness than those who do not identify as being LGBTQIA+.

  • LGBTQIA+ people are at more risk of suicidal behavior and self-harm than non-LGBTQIA+ people;
  • Gay and bisexual men are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide across their lifetime than the rest of the population;
  • LGBTQIA+ people are 1½ times more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorder compared to the rest of the population;
  • 67% of trans people had experienced depression in the previous year, and 46% had thought of ending their life;
  • Stonewall’s ‘Prescription for Change’ report found lesbian and bisexual women had higher rates of suicidal thoughts and self-harm compared to women in general; and
  • Of all the common sexual identity groups, bisexual people most frequently have mental health problems, including depression, anxiety disorder, self-harm, and suicidality.


The reasons why there are higher rates of mental health issues among LGBTQIA+ people are complex. There are many experiences that LGBTQIA+ people will often have to deal with as a minority community, such as stigma, prejudice, and discrimination.



Types of discrimination

Experiencing discrimination can negatively impact mental health, and there are some types of discrimination that people in LGBTQIA+ communities are more likely to face in their life experiences.

In the medical field

How members of LGBTQIA+ communities are treated and written about in the medical field has drastically changed over time and is still changing today. Different communities have different views on what terminology should be used to describe themselves in medicine.

The history of how LGBTQIA+ people were treated in medicine can still impact the mental health of communities today and may influence how people trust and access medical facilities. It’s important that LGBTQIA+ people should be able to refer to themselves medicinally in a way that they feel comfortable with.

In the workplace

Workplace discrimination and bullying can take place in many forms, including direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimization. Experiencing any form of bullying, discrimination, or harassment at work can make you less likely to want to go to work and more likely to experience poor mental health.

  • LGBTQIA+ employees are more likely to experience conflict and harassment at work compared to their heterosexual and cisgender colleagues;
  • A study of more than 15,000 workers found that 40% of LGBTQIA+ employees and more than 55% of trans workers experienced conflict in the workplace over the last 12 months. This is compared to 29% of heterosexual and cisgender employees;
  • The same study also found that 16% of LGBTQIA+ workers and 18% of trans employees felt mentally unsafe in the workplace. This is compared to 10% of heterosexual workers;
  • 19% of LGBTQIA+ employees have experienced verbal bullying from colleagues, customers or service users because of their sexual orientation in the last 5 years; and
  • 5% of trans employees are made to use an inappropriate toilet in the workplace, or provided with none at all, during the early stages of transition.


In school

More than half of younger LGBTQIA+ people experience homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying in Britain’s schools. Although many schools now teach pupils about different sexualities, the lack of LGBTQIA+ education as a whole means young people within these communities often feel isolated, fearful, and targeted in school settings.

  • Verbal, physical, and sexual abuse is more commonly reported in transgender youth compared to cisgender youth;
  • One-third of LGTBTQIA+ pupils drop out of education after 16 years of age. The impact of bullying is thought to be one of the reasons discouraging LGBTQIA+ young people from continuing their education; and
  • Nearly half of pupils who experience bullying have symptoms of depression.


In young people

Navigating teenage years and young adulthood can impact the mental health of anybody, but young people who identify as part of LGBTQIA+ communities are more likely to face challenges and discrimination, which can further impact their mental wellbeing.

  • Young LGBTQIA+ adults are more likely to self-harm;
  • 13% of those who identify as LGBTQIA+ who are aged 18-24 have attempted to take their own life in the last year;
  •  Symptoms of depression are more common and severe in young people who identify as LGBTQIA+; and
  • Young LGBTQIA+ adults are more likely to show symptoms of eating disorders.


Hate crimes

A hate crime is a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.

Being a victim of any form of hate crime can increase the chances of experiencing poor mental health and can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety disorders, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The most common type of hate crime incident reported by LGBTQIA+ communities is verbal abuse.

  • 91% of LGBTQIA+ people either didn’t report an incident of hate crime at all or didn’t report it themselves;
  • People said that they didn’t report the incident because they felt that nothing would happen or change, it wasn’t serious enough, or it happens all the time;
  • Transgender people are around twice as likely to experience threats of physical or sexual harassment or violence compared with the other LGBTQIA+ communities; and
  • It was found that 69% of LGBTQIA+ people who had been the victim of a hate crime experienced depression, and 76% reported episodes of anxiety or panic.



Experiences in life

Members of LGBTQIA+ communities are more likely to face experiences in their life that may impact their mental health negatively.

Coming out

For some people, ‘coming out’ for the first time can be exciting and liberating. For others, it can be difficult. It could be a combination of the two. It may not be a one-off event but something you do many times during your life.

Experiences as a result of ‘coming out’ can go on to impact mental health negatively.

Culture and identity

Black, Asian, or minority ethnic (BAME) LGBTQIA+ people may face additional barriers when accessing support. This is shown in the following statistics about the BAME LGBTQIA+ community, as 62% are more likely to experience depression than the general population, and 8% fall under communities that are at higher risk of attempting to take their own life.

Experience in healthcare

A survey found that of gay and bisexual men who have accessed healthcare services in the previous year, 17% experienced inappropriate curiosity by healthcare professionals, and 30% of lesbians and 23% of bisexual women have experienced inappropriate curiosity from healthcare staff. 27% of trans people have been ‘outed’ by healthcare staff without their consent.

Body image and eating disorders

Of adults who identify as LGBTQIA+, 40% are likely to experience shame due to their body image. Concern over body image can lead to an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder.

12% of LGBTQIA+ people have experienced an eating disorder over a 12-month period, including 24% of non-binary people and 19% of trans.

Substance abuse

Studies have shown that LGBTQIA+ communities are more likely to experience problems with substance abuse. 16% of LGBTQIA+ people say they drink alcohol for more than 5 days per week in a 12-month period.

This is compared to 10% of the non-LGBTQIA+ community. Lesbian and bisexual women aged 65+ are more at risk of substance dependence than the rest of the population.

Getting older

Many older LGBTQIA+ people have experienced ill-treatment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the past. Some feel that their sexual orientation or identity has, or will have, a negative effect on aging and are concerned about future care needs, mobility, health, and housing.

Getting support

It is important to seek help and support if you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues. There are many forms of support, from general mental health support to specialised support for LGBTQIA+ people.

General services

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is illegal for a service provider to directly or indirectly, discriminate against anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+.

The NHS and any other organization that offers services is a service provider that must adhere to this act. Going to your GP is often the first step to gaining support and accessing to mental health services such as talking therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and group therapy.

You can also self-refer yourself to your local service. You can find your local NHS talking therapy service by searching on the following NHS website. You can also find local support for your mental health on the Mental Health UK website.

LGBTQIA+ support services

Although general services are there to help anyone, many people may find specialist services feel more inclusive, welcoming, and positive to access.

There are many organizations offering social and practical support to the LGBTQIA+ community, including mental health support as well as social groups, sports clubs, or activities in your area that you can become involved in.

For the full list of charities and organizations that offer specialist support to LGBTQIA+ people, visit the Mental Health UK support page.

We hope that you have found this guide useful. If so, please do let us know in the comments.

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