LGBTIQ+—an acronym that encompasses lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer, or questioning individuals. While this terminology is widespread, it’s important to acknowledge that it doesn’t encompass all the diverse ways in which people define their gender or sexuality. To explore a more comprehensive list of terms, refer to Stonewall’s glossary.
Mental health issues, including depression, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts, can affect anyone. However, research indicates that these challenges are more prevalent among the LGBTIQ+ community.
It’s crucial to note that being LGBTIQ+ isn’t the cause of these issues. Rather, the mental health of LGBTIQ+ individuals can be influenced by factors such as discrimination, homophobia or transphobia, social isolation, rejection, and the often difficult journey of coming out.
Nevertheless, embracing one’s LGBTIQ+ identity can also have a positive impact on well-being. It may foster increased confidence, a sense of belonging within a community, feelings of relief and self-acceptance, and stronger relationships with friends and family.
What Challenges Do LGBTIQ+ Individuals Face?
Mental Health Issues
Being LGBTIQ+ doesn’t automatically imply experiencing mental health problems, but it does place individuals at a higher risk of encountering such difficulties. A study conducted by Stonewall found that within the previous year:
- Half of LGBTIQ+ individuals had experienced depression, and three in five had encountered anxiety.
- One in eight LGBTIQ+ people, aged 18 to 24, had attempted to take their own lives.
- Almost half of trans individuals had contemplated suicide.
“Hate crimes” refer to criminal acts committed against individuals based on their race, sexuality, religion, gender identity, or disability. Sadly, members of the LGBTIQ+ community face a greater risk of being targets of hate crimes compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Certain subgroups within the LGBTIQ+ community, including gay men, young individuals, and ethnic minorities such as Black and Asian individuals, are particularly vulnerable.
If you have fallen victim to a hate crime, immediately contact your local police force by dialing 999 in emergencies or 101 for non-emergency situations. Stonewall provides additional resources on how to report hate crimes.
Approximately one in eight LGBTIQ+ individuals have encountered unequal treatment from healthcare providers due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, one in seven have chosen to forgo necessary treatment out of fear of facing discrimination.
It is essential to remember that healthcare providers have a legal obligation, as per the Equality Act 2010, to treat LGBTIQ+ individuals fairly. If you have experienced discrimination from a healthcare professional, you do not have to tolerate it. Various actions can be taken, such as filing a complaint. For guidance on the next steps, refer to Citizens Advice.
Seeking Support for Mental Health Concerns
If you find yourself worried about your mental health, exploring our 10 practical tips for maintaining mental well-being might prove helpful. In case you’re feeling suicidal, refer to the “help and support” section of our suicide resource page, where you can find details for helplines offering valuable assistance.
Specific support organizations cater to the needs of LGBTIQ+ individuals. If you require guidance, the following organizations are a great starting point:
- Albert Kennedy Trust: Supporting young LGBTIQ+ individuals aged 16 to 25.
- Gendered Intelligence: A trans-led charity dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for trans individuals, particularly those under 25.
- Imaan: Providing support to LGBTIQ+ Muslims and facilitating an online forum for sharing experiences and seeking help.
- LGBT Consortium: Browse their extensive database to discover LGBTIQ+ groups, projects, and organizations near you that offer mental health services.
- Stonewall: Offering assistance and advice for LGBTIQ+ individuals and their allies.
- Switchboard LGBT Helpline: Providing information and support, staffed entirely by LGBTIQ+ volunteers.
- Mind: A comprehensive list of organizations that offer mental health support tailored to LGBTIQ+ people.
Remember, you’re not alone, and there is support available. Reach out to these organizations or browse the vast collection of mental health statistics for further insights and resources.