LGBTQ+ Community

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The LGBTQ+ community is identified as people with different sexual orientations (who you’re attracted to) and sexual identities (the internal sense of being male, female, both, or neither). These individuals often identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex plus other sexual identities including pansexual and asexual. Most LGBTQ+ members deal with negative cultural and societal stereotypes, which can make it difficult or uncomfortable to openly explain this part of their identity and feel embraced. ADAA is committed to promoting the importance of identity and inclusion within the community. Therefore, we encourage you to share your story and learn more about the experiences of others.  Find out how to share your story with ADAA.   

Recognizing Intersectional Barriers to Mental Health Care 

"LGBTQ+ mental health barriers, LGBTQ+ anxiety and depression, LGBTQ+ mental health resources"

LGBTQ+ individuals are three times as likely to experience a mental health disorder in comparison to individuals that identify as straight.1 The community deals with constant adversity ranging from sexual trauma and harassment, societal discrimination, prejudice and the denial of civil and human rights. Now imagine those same obstacles being coupled with the struggles of also identifying with other marginalized groups like BIPOC communities, physical or cognitive disabilities, or low socioeconomic status. This can create a complex intersection of traumatic experiences that can often increase mental health disorders and the need for mental health care and services.  

Additionally, the community is constantly at risk of experiencing shame, discrimination, fear, and traumatic events. Approximately 40% of LGBTQ+ adults have experienced a mental illness in the past year, in comparison to the 18% of all adults who faced a mental illness in the same year.2 However, reports have shown that the community has faced cases of providers denying care, using harsh language, or blaming sexual orientation or gender identity as the cause for a mental illness.7 Ultimately, these stigmas can act as a barrier or hindrance for people to seek out effective mental health care.  

Why Identity Matters 

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The LGBTQ+ community encompasses a diverse group of people. Therefore, identity is important for every member of the community to truly feel heard and seen. Using the appropriate pronouns in introductions and daily conversations are directly linked to creating an affirming environment for all identities within the community. Even though a person’s pronoun may not match your perception, it is important to respect the preferred pronouns of all individuals.  

Identity matters to the community because they continue to deal with anti-LGBTQ+ and homophobic slurs that can cause mental and emotional harm. These same hateful slurs continue to perpetuate dangerous stereotypes about the community. It is a common expression of verbal abuse and can dehumanize members of the LGBTQ+ community.9 Being mislabeled with improper pronouns or slurs can have a negative impact on the mental health of the community by taking away their sense of self and can increase feelings of loneliness.8  

LGBTQ+ Inclusive Language Guide

Understanding LGBTQ+ Youth 

The adolescent period is critical for mental health as many disorders often present themselves during this period. LGBTQ+ youth are particularly at risk for mental health disorders because they face many adversities, including bullying, difficulty coming out to friends and family members, hate crimes, lack of support, and fear of stigma, and discrimination.4

"LGBTQ+ teens depression"

LGBTQ+ teens are six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression than their heterosexual counterparts. LGBTQ+ youth are also four times more likely to attempt suicide, have suicidal ideations, or self-harm than straight youth. LGBTQ+ youth who come from highly rejecting families are over eight times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGBTQ+ peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.5 

Finding the Right Provider 

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It's important to find a provider that can understand and is comfortable with one’s preferred sexual orientation, gender identity and how that relates to mental health. When choosing a provider, it would be beneficial to reach out prior to an appointment to ensure that they do not have an implicit preference for heterosexual people but instead have cultural sensitivity toward societal experiences and cultural factors faced by LGBTQ+ individuals. Because there are still stigmas within mental health care, it is important to make sure that the provider is LGBTQ+-inclusive.6  

Below is a list of therapist and mental health resources for the LGBTQ+ community: 

Additional Resources from ADAA 

These ADAA resources—blog posts, webinars, articles, and stories—provide helpful information, support, and opportunities to learn more about mental health within Black communities.   

ADAA Webinars

ADAA Blogs  

ADAA Infographics

From the ADAA Public Community:  Personal Stories of Triumph

Trending Articles 


  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). LGBTQI.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT)
  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). LGBTQI.
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth.
  5. The Trevor Project. Preventing Suicide Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning Youth: 2016 Policy Priorities.
  6. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). LGBTQI.
  7. Mental Health America (MHA). LGBTQ+ Communities And Mental Health.
  8. The Center. Pronouns.
  9. Time Magazine. Not “just words”: Exposure to homophobic epithets leads to dehumanizing and physical distancing from gay men.



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