Today there is more awareness of LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual or allied) issues, and more advocacy on their behalf than ever. Yet there remains a tremendous amount of stigma and outright hatred directed toward the LGBTQIA community, making it very difficult — and sometimes painful — to navigate life as a LGBTQIA person.
Those who identify as LGBTQIA are not genetically more likely to experience mental illness, but fear of discrimination and abuse — along with the stress of coming out and being accepted within families and communities — make them more vulnerable to mental health struggles. According to the National Alliance On Mental Illness, the LBGTQIA population is three times more likely to experience major depression or generalized anxiety, and is at higher risk of substance abuse and suicide.
Suicide risk is of particular concern for the LBGTQIA community, especially among LBGTQIA youth aged 10-24. They are 4 times as likely to die by suicide and 3 times as likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, or self-harm. Transgender individuals are also at increased risk, with 38-65% experiencing suicidal ideation. Mental health services need to be readily accessible to the LBGTQIA community, and above all, LBGTQIA folks need to know that kind, compassionate, truly loving mental health support is out there should they require it.