If you live with a mental illness and identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ), it’s important to take care of your mental health. Although not all LGBTQ individuals experience mental illness, many still experience discrimination, prejudice, and stigma based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Traumatic experiences such as family rejection, harassment, bullying, and bias from healthcare providers have been shown to raise cortisol levels, cause unhealthy coping behaviors, and lead to a range of morbidities (National LGBT Education Center). Many LGBTQ individuals encounter a “double stigma” arising from biases against sexual or gender identity as well as their mental health status.
– LGBQ young people are more than twice as likely to feel suicidal, and over four times as likely to attempt suicide, compared to heterosexual youth (Kann, 2016)
– Compared to heterosexual men, gay and bisexual men have higher chances of having major depression, bipolar disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
– Sexual minority women are also at a higher risk for violence and harassment from peers and family during adolescence, and they have an equal or higher risk for intimate partner violence (Fenway Institute, 2019)
– LGBT older adults report worse psychological health and greater substance use, such as heavy alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, compared to their non-LGBT peers (Fenway Institute, 2019)
NAMI NJ understands the difficulty of facing these challenges alone and stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Through our NAMI RAIN (Realizing Acceptance In New Jersey) program, we aim to challenge the stigma around mental health and promote acceptance of sexual and gender minorities. We offer a variety of LGBTQ-inclusive mental health resources for anyone who identifies as LGBTQ as well as for their loved ones, caregivers, friends, and community.
Please contact us for information about the program, to share any concerns, or to become a volunteer facilitator.
Fenway Institute. (2019). Promoting the Behavioral Health of LGBT Older Adults. Retrieved from: https://www.lgbthealtheducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/TFIE-34_LGBT-Older-Adults-Brief_final_web.pdf
Kann, L., O’Malley Olsen, E., McManus, T., Harris, W. A., Shanklin, S. L., Flint, K. H., . . . Zaza, S. (2016). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9–12 — United States and Selected Sites, 2015. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ ss60e0606.pdf
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/mental-health.htm