Culturally informed care doesn’t start and stop with ethnicity. Any minority group needs extra sensitivity to issues specific to that group. LGBTQ mental health concerns are both universal and highly nuanced for those in the community. Mental health services for those who identify as LGBTQ+ need to understand and accept where you are and your lived experience before you can move forward with any treatment.
Those in the LGBTQ community are more likely to develop substance use disorder (SUD) compared to the general population and more likely to be diagnosed with serious mental illness, according to national survey results. With higher-than-average risk factors, it’s critical to gain a better understanding of what might be affecting members of the LGBTQIA+ community and how to address those issues during treatment.
Understanding the Unique Needs of LGBTQ Mental Health Patients
Did you know the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that 86% of LGBTQ+ youth reported instances of harassment or assault during school hours? Lack of safety in places that are supposed to be safe can cause complex trauma and lead to various mental health concerns for LGBTQ youth. Sexual violence, which can include harassment, can have lifelong side effects, including:
- Eating disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Substance abuse disorders
Long-term abuse from peers and/or authority figures can leave those in the community with difficulty reaching out for help and uncertainty surrounding the safety of LGBTQ+ mental health services. After all, your teachers and school counselors are supposed to be trustworthy, but so often LGBTQ student life isn’t safe.
Understanding the lifelong trauma experienced by many members of this community, some of whom also struggle with abandonment and isolation from family support, is critical to providing the right support services for this unique group of people.
It’s also important to recognize that not all LGBTQ community members share the same experiences. Some youth don’t recognize their sexuality until they reach adulthood, while others struggle with feelings of othering much earlier in life. Either way, the more informed a mental health provider is about the community, the more likely they are to be able to provide care that better meets your needs.
LGBTQ Mental Health Resources
When seeking help for any mental health concerns, it’s important to find providers who are sensitive and knowledgeable about your circumstances. You wouldn’t go to a cardiologist to ask about a sinus issue, and you shouldn’t see an ADHD specialist if you don’t have that particular diagnosis. However, regardless of your diagnosis, you’ll want to find specialists who are either members of the LGBTQ community or who provide care specifically tailored to your needs.
Here are some great options to help connect you with LGBTQ+ mental health services.
Mental Health Hotline
Call this organization to connect with help 24/7. It partners with mental health providers nationwide to create a support network that reaches as many people as possible, connecting members of the LGBTQ community with culturally sensitive support.
The Trevor Project
Aimed at helping LGBTQIA+ youth, The Trevor Project has trained counselors available for chat, text or call, 24/7/365. Counselors are just as happy to keep you company when you’re feeling lonely as to provide information to those who have friends or loved ones in the LGBTQIA+ community. If you have a question, are in crisis or want help finding local mental health services, The Trevor Project can help. Call today.
Staffed by trans people for trans people, the Trans Lifeline is available to anyone struggling with their gender identity. It offers 24/7 confidential support and direct financial assistance, in some cases. From microgrants that help with everything from name change fees to hair removal, Trans Lifeline provides unique care to a unique group of people who are often isolated and misunderstood in their communities. Call to get help today.
SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline
With a focus on helping older members of the LGBT community, this hotline offers 24/7 access to culturally competent counselors trained in crisis response. Whether you just need someone to listen or need support for an immediate crisis, help is just a call away.
LBGT Suicide Hotline
The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has counselors trained specifically to help those in the LGBTQ community. With services available to both youth and adults, it provides emergency support to those in crisis. Simply dial 988 to connect with a caring counselor to help get past the immediate emergency.
Calling the Mental Health Hotline for help is a great first step toward working on your mental health. But you need continuing, long-term care to turn that step into a lifelong journey. Get the help you need when you call today.