On the Job: LGBTQ People and Mental Health Issues

NAMI: How Mental Health Conditions Affect LGBTQ Community

Family Doctor: LGBTQ Mental Health Issues

Mental Help: Mental Health in the LGBTQ Community

Info: Addiction and Recovery

Guide: Depression and Anxiety in LGBTQ People

Counseling Today: Promoting LGBTQ Wellness

High Rates of Depression Among Rural LGBTQ Population
Foundation for Better Understanding: The Health of LGBTQ People


LGBTQ People and Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

Most LGBTQ people have had mental health issues because of their jobs. Mental health issues in the workplace are a common occurrence for LGBTQ people, according to a poll conducted by YouGov on the behalf of Business in the Community and Mercer.

72% percent of LGBTQ employees have experienced mental health issues as a result of their workplace.



The survey also showed that a little more than a quarter of LGBTQ employees are not open about their sexual orientation in the workplace, and 28% of LGBTQ upper management and owners have been encouraged to hide their sexual orientation.

What’s more, people of color who were also LGBTQ were twice as likely to face negativity from customers and clients than their white LGBTQ counterparts.

Customers or colleagues have physically attacked 7% of LGBTQ workers, with that number rising to 13% among blue-collar workers. That also includes 15% of people of color, 20% of non-binary identified people, and 30% of seniors.

Additionally, 9% felt that being seen as LGBTQ prevented them from getting a job or a promotion, with 6% saying that it as a significant factor losing a job in the past year.

According to the report, good employee mental health is crucial to running a successful, sustainable organization. These numbers point to failures in handling employee mental health, particularly for LGBTQ and other minority populations in the workplace.

The report, titled “Seizing the Moment,” is Business in the Community’s 2018 report on mental health at work.

[Source: Gwendolyn Smith / LGBTQ Nation / October 2018]


Huff Post: LGBTQ Wellness

NAMI: How Mental Health Conditions Affect LGBTQ Community

Jennifer Potter Video: Health Promotion Strategies for LGBTQ People

Mental Health Challenges for LGBTQ Youth

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

Info: Healthcare

On the Job: LGBTQ People and Mental Health Issues

Good Therapy for LGBTQ Persons

Family Doctor: LGBTQ Mental Health Issues

Unique Strengths of LGBTQ Community

Pride Counseling: On-Line Therapy



Promoting LGBTQ Student Well-Being

Research shows that LGBTQ youth are disproportionately bullied (whether in person or via cyberbullying), verbally and physically harassed, and assaulted in schools by peers and staff. Such hostility has been correlated to lower school performance and psychological and emotional distress, including suicidal ideation and attempt, depression and anxiety.

In the 2015 GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) National School Climate Survey, LGB students reported higher levels of verbal, physical and sexual violence and bullying than did their heterosexual counterparts. Specifically, 98.1 percent of LGB students heard the word “gay” used in a derogatory manner, 85.2 percent reported verbal harassment, and 34.7 percent reported being physically harassed in the past year. In addition, a 2017 meta-analysis of 27 empirical studies on the effects of cyberbullying on LGBTQ youth revealed that compared with their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts, these students are disproportionately harassed online and through other technology-based means. Such harassment has been correlated to a range of behavioral and emotional difficulties, including suicidal ideation (with some studies suggesting rates as high as 40 percent among LGBTQ youth) and suicide attempts (with rates as high as 30 percent).


Many LGBTQ students identify school counselors as the one school staff member to whom they are most likely to disclose concerns related to their sexual and gender identity. Given this reality, school counselors are uniquely positioned to address myths about LGBTQ youth, to advocate for these students and to effect change.

[Source: Counseling Today / Abreu, McEachern, Hall, Kenny / October 2018]


On the Job: LGBTQ People and Mental Health Issues

NAMI: How Mental Health Conditions Affect LGBTQ Community

Scott Leibowitz Video: Health Promotion Strategies for LGBTQ People

Family Doctor: LGBTQ Mental Health Issues

Info: Alcohol/Drug Abuse

Mental Help: Mental Health in the LGBTQ Community

Bolstering Resilience in LGBTQ Youth

Video: Stress and Resilience in the LGBTQ Community

Counseling Today: Promoting LGBTQ Wellness

APA: LGBTQ Health Disparities

How Do Mental Health Conditions Affect the LGBTQ Community?

Without mental health we cannot be healthy. We all experience emotional ups and downs from time to time caused by events in our lives. Mental health conditions go beyond these emotional reactions to specific situations. They are medical conditions that cause changes in how we think and feel and in our mood.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) community faces mental health conditions just like the rest of the population. However, you may experience more negative mental health outcomes due to prejudice and other biases. Knowing what challenges you may face as a member of the LGBTQ community and how to find and work with LGBTQ-inclusive providers can help ensure more positive outcomes.


LGBTQ individuals are almost 3 times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder. This fear of coming out and being discriminated against for sexual orientation and gender identities, can lead to depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, thoughts of suicide and substance abuse.

LGBTQ people must confront stigma and prejudice based on their sexual orientation or gender identity while also dealing with the societal bias against mental health conditions. Some people report having to hide their sexual orientation from those in the mental health system for fear of being ridiculed or rejected. Some hide their mental health conditions from their LGBTQ friends.

As a community, LGBTQ individuals do not often talk about mental health and may lack awareness about mental health conditions. This sometimes prevents people from seeking the treatment and support that they need to get better.


[Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness]


Mental Health America: LGBTQ Mental Health Notes

Info: Reparative Therapy

Mental Help: Mental Health in the LGBTQ Community

APA: Psychologist Guidelines for Working With LGBTQ Clients

Jamie Feldman Video: Health Promotion Strategies for LGBTQ People

Why is the LGBTQ Community so Anxious?

Video: Sociocultural and Behavioral Detriments to LGBTQ Health

Info: Domestic Violence

Counseling Today: Promoting LGBTQ Wellness

High Rates of Depression Among Rural LGBTQ Population



LGBTQ Health Report


The Division of Gender, Sexuality & Health, at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, wrote this report regarding LGBTQ health issues.


Over the past decade, and especially in the past few years, there have been sweeping changes in US society, law, and public policy, including the following:

--In 2003, the Supreme Court invalidated all remaining anti-sodomy laws in its ruling in Lawrence v. Texas.

--In 2004, individual states began adopting same-sex marriage.

--In 2010, the “It Gets Better” online campaign was launched, a signal of growing societal support for LGBTQ youths, parents, and families. It now has over 50,000 videos and 50 million views on YouTube.

--In 2011, the federal government repealed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy in the military and articulated LGBTQ rights as a foreign policy goal.  

--In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report on the health of LGBTQ people. Federal agencies such as CDC, SAMHSA, and others have also highlighted the issue.

--In 2012, marriage equality was endorsed by President Obama, the Democratic Party’s platform, and a plurality of poll respondents.

--In 2013, President Barack Obama, in his second inaugural address, articulated equality for a LGBTQ people as a priority area of his administration.

--In 2013, the Supreme Court allowed the restoration of marriage equality in California and struck down the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prohibited the federal government from recognizing married same-sex couples.

--In 2014, a range of challenges to state same-sex marriage bans are being pursued and the federal government continues to proactively implement the Supreme Court's partial overturning of DOMA.


--In 2015, the US Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.


Troubling Statistics

Despite these advances, the health and mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals has emerged as a major concern across the nation. Numerous examples of stigmatization, discrimination and health inequities have been documented, including the following:

--Increased rate of suicide attempts and of homelessness among LGBTQ youth (Estimates indicate that as many as 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ).

--Decreased utilization by lesbians of preventive services for cancer and increased risk factors and elevated rates of cancer (Estimated relative risk of invasive breast cancer among lesbians is 1.74).

--Higher risk of HIV and STDs among gay men, especially in communities of color (From 2006-2009, gay men accounted for 56-61% of all new HIV infections; MSM 13–29 represented more than 27% of all new HIV infections; among MSM 13-29, HIV among black MSM was up 48%).

--High prevalence among transgender individuals of HIV/STDs, victimization, mental health issues, and suicidal ideation (41% of trans respondents reported suicide attempt vs. 1.6% of the general population; 23% were impacted by at least three major life-disrupting events due to bias.)

--Barriers to health faced by elderly LGBTQ individuals because of isolation, and lack of social services and culturally competent providers (Older LGBTQ people are 2 times as likely to live alone; 1/3 plan to hide LGBTQ status if in long-term care).

Higher rates of mental health morbidities and tobacco, alcohol, other drug use (Alcohol abuse and smoking are more than 2 times greater among LGBTQ people).

--A significant proportion of people with serious mental illness (SMI) in the US are LGBTQ (Estimates suggest that about 720,000, or about 4% of people with SMI, are LGBTQ).

At the same time, new areas of concern are also emerging across the lifespan, such as:

--children "coming out" at ever-younger ages.
--schools trying to tackle the problem of bullying.
--early medical interventions becoming available for transgender youth.
--new family dynamics emerging among same-sex couples who are legally married and/or who are raising children.
--the first large cohort of openly LGBTQ people becoming senior citizens.

These are no longer merely potential or emerging issues with regard to mental and physical health. Rather, they are immediate and pressing needs demanding focused efforts in research, clinical practice, education, and public policy. Yet far too few LGBTQ individuals, particularly from within poor and marginalized communities have access to the quality services they need. Through the LGBTQ Health Initiative, we aim to address these and many other related issues.


Unique Strengths of LGBTQ Community
HHS: LGBTQ Health and Wellbeing

HRC: Healthcare Equality Index 2018

Guide: Depression and Anxiety in LGBTQ People

US Health & Human Services Reports: LGBTQ Health and Wellbeing

Info: Addiction and Recovery

Foundation for Better Understanding: The Health of LGBTQ People

Huff Post: LGBTQ Wellness
Video: Sociocultural and Behavioral Detriments to LGBTQ Health



LGBTQ Wellness Notes: Risk Factors

Some of the health concerns and risk factors that are relevant to LBGTQ individuals may be shared by the general population, while others are more specific to the LGBTQ community, and still others are specific to different subgroups of LGBTQ individuals. These health concerns may be grouped into the following areas of concern:

Sexual behavior issues: STDs such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and genital warts (human papillomavirus or HPV); anal, ovarian, and cervical cancer.

Cultural issues: body image, nutrition, weight, and eating disorders; drug and alcohol abuse; tobacco use; parenting and family planning.

Discrimination issues: inadequate medical care; harassment at work, school, or home; difficulty in obtaining housing, insurance coverage, or child custody; violence.

Sexual identity issues: conflicts with family, friends, and work mates; psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, and suicide; economic hardship.


Unique Strengths of LGBTQ Community
Guide: Depression and Anxiety in LGBTQ People

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

US Health & Human Services Reports: LGBTQ Health and Wellbeing

Foundation for Better Understanding: The Health of LGBTQ People

Video: Sociocultural and Behavioral Detriments to LGBTQ Health

On the Job: LGBTQ People and Mental Health Issues

NAMI: How Mental Health Conditions Affect LGBTQ Community

Mental Help: Mental Health in the LGBTQ Community

High Rates of Depression Among Rural LGBTQ Population

Unique Strengths of the LGBTQ Community


In the face of oppression, minority groups develop unique LGBTQ strengths and character traits.


It sometimes feels like every day brings with it a new study about minority stress, reports about public policy that neglects or harms LGBTQ Americans, or a news item about the horrific treatment of transgender people in the workplace. And while it’s hugely important to identify and discuss the microaggressions and overt discrimination that all LGBTQ people face, this continued emphasis on the negative aspects of being an LGBTQ individual is ultimately an incomplete picture of what it means to be queer these days and can lead to self-perpetuating patterns of defeatism.


The persistence that’s been required of the LGBTQ community in the face of continued oppression has actually given way to a unique set of strengths. While our backgrounds are as distinct and varied as our personalities, LGBTQ individuals are strong, creative, funny, interesting, and above all, resilient. Research shows that for the queer community, what doesn’t kill us really does make us stronger.



We’re Socially Intelligent


Studies show that LGBTQ people tend to possess high levels of social intelligence and the skills related to perceiving and using emotional information to make decisions in social interactions. LGBTQ people have the ability to get along with others, get them to cooperate with you, and successfully navigate complex interpersonal interactions.


Researchers suggest that the experience of being a sexual or gender minority actually fosters social and emotional intelligence. For example, it was found that bisexual people are more capable of modifying their behavior to address unique situations and problems compared to both their heterosexual and homosexual counterparts — a trait that researchers describe as “cognitive flexibility.” Another study found that trans men and women had high levels of social intelligence, based on insights into what it means to experience life beyond the gender binary.


Because LGBTQ individuals are statistically more likely to be minorities in group settings, they learn to modify their behaviors and reactions in order to minimize aggression or suspicion from their peers. This generally results in the ability to “read a room” and evaluate the “correct” social responses. And while these motivations are symptoms of an insidious, culturally enforced intolerance, they’ve given way to an adaptive social skill set that cisgendered heterosexual people are less likely to possess.



We’re Courageous


Research shows that, because LGBTQ individuals are essentially required to cope with near-constant minority stress, bravery is likely to be an LGBTQ strength. In a culture where threats of physical violence, job discrimination, social exclusion, and political inequality are condoned by the federal government, the LGBTQ community encounter near-constant risks that their heterosexual counterparts rarely face. The process of coming out and confronting heteronormativity on a daily basis requires bravery on a daily basis.



We’re Empathetic


When surveyed, LGBTQ people indicate that the process of coming out involves a tremendous amount of personal insight and reflection — exercises that ultimately improved their ability to empathize with others. This self-reinforcing chain positively reclaims power for individuals and reinforces good stereotypes while disrupting negative ones. LGBTQ people transform reactions to institutionalized oppression and stigmatization into empathy and social activism.



We’re Authentic


LGBTQ people feel less pressure to conform to societally defined roles and narratives like getting married or having children on a certain timeline — or at all. Other themes included freedom from gender-specific roles within relationships or society at large, freedom to explore sexuality and relationships, and freedom to enjoy egalitarian relationships, which all lead to authenticity being a particular LGBTQ strength. One lesbian explained that being lesbian allows us to choose to have children and how to raise children in ways not claimed by straight women. One gay man noted that there is less pressure on gay men to have children and, as such, the decision for a gay man to have or not to have children may involve a healthier process.



We’re Resilient


On a daily basis, LGBTQ people are faced with oppression from political and social forces and have to find construction ways to cope. When LGBTQ individuals are actively involved as change agents they are better insulated against the damage wrought by anti-LGBTQ politics and legislation. Becoming involved enhances individuals’ ability to cope and builds resilience for the future. Nearly three quarters of LGBTQ individuals demonstrated at least one of five “resilience factors” that helped them in coping with adversity, including social support, connection with the LGBTQ community, emotional coping, self-acceptance, and positive reframing.


Because LGBTQ individuals are more likely to face identity-related discrimination and accompanying emotional hardships than their straight counterparts, they often have no choice but to develop resilience. This breeds a unique strength of character that is not so ubiquitously present in majority groups.



We’re Highly Creative


The experiences of LGBTQ individuals have not only necessitated heightened social awareness and resilience, but creativity in how queer people choose to craft their own stories and invent themselves. Without established narratives against which to chart their experiences, members of the LGBTQ community have been liberated to form tight-knit social circles, families of choice, and safe spaces that celebrate shared identity traits. Creativity is largely seen as an LGBTQ strength, and there is quite a bit of evidence to support that LGBTQ people tend to be creative.


Focusing on the Positive


It’s imperative that research into the LGBTQ experience look beyond the negative aspects of belonging to a sexual or gender minority group. Ultimately, only looking at the hardships we face ignores the incredible things we’ve built despite those hardships. And while raising awareness into the realities of both the systemic and social discrimination that we face on a daily basis is necessary, so too is examining the ways in which our community has persevered and grown.


Equipped with empathy, resilience, strength of character, and a tight-knit community support system, there’s no telling what we’ve yet to accomplish.


[Source: Lighthouse 2018 / Michelle D. Vaughan & Eric M. Rodriguez (2014), Julie Konik & Mary Crawford (2014), Laura Brown (1989)]



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