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Help end stigma and prioritize mental health in the LGBTQ+ community

Mental health stigma is a very real and challenging barrier in the LGBTQ+ community.

Stigma keeps people silent
about their mental health struggles, making it harder to ask for support and receive the care that is wanted, needed and deserved.

Giving voice to LGBTQ+ young people on mental health

According to The Trevor Project: 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People,1 a survey giving a voice to LGBTQ+ young people, this is a time when this community is unfairly at the center of political attacks. This report highlights the anti-LGBTQ+ victimization that has contributed to the higher rates of suicide risk reported and that most who want mental health care are unable to get it.

The survey indicated1:

  • 41% of LGBTQ+ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year — and young people who are transgender, nonbinary and/or people of color reported higher rates than their peers.
  • 81% wanted mental health care.
  • 56% who wanted mental health care weren’t able to get it.

Reasons for not getting mental health care, according to the report,1 included being:

  • Afraid to talk about their mental health concern with someone else.
  • Unwilling to ask for or not having a parent’s or caregiver’s permission.
  • Afraid wouldn’t be taken seriously.
  • Unable to afford it.
  • Afraid of being outed as LGBTQ+.
  • Doubtful they would understand my sexual orientation or gender identity.

Another challenge is the lack of understanding from some health care providers who may not be familiar with the unique experiences and challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community. This can lead to lack of sensitivity, reduced trust and further reduced access to care.

Additionally, the stigma of talking about mental health can be even more difficult when a person from the LGBTQ+ community also belongs to other marginalized groups that are treated unfairly. For example, LGBTQ+ people of color may face many additional layers of stigma and discrimination that further impact their mental health as well as their openness to talking about it.

How you can help Make It OK and end the mental health stigma in the LGBTQ+ community:

1. Spread awareness

Learn and raise awareness about the added challenges the LGBTQ+ community faces with mental health and stigma. Promote understanding, acceptance, belonging and inclusivity.

2. Amplify the voices of those who have been touched by a mental illness

It’s a powerful way to increase compassion, understanding, connection and acceptance. Combat myths with facts. Find strength and hope in stories of real people with lived experiences and share your story.

3. Respect pronouns

Sharing pronouns helps build a culture of respect by creating a norm where people’s gender identities aren’t assumed. It also sends a message of welcomeness and belonging to people whose pronouns may often be incorrectly assumed.

4. Create safe spaces

Where individuals can openly talk about their mental health without fear of stigma or discrimination.


Link to podcast

5. Listen and approach talking about mental health with humility

Engage with a humble approach, first seeking to understand the unique challenges the LGBTQ+ community faces in getting the mental health support and care it deserves. Respond in an informed and caring way. Champion for more culturally aware providers and gender-affirming care to ensure the care received is inclusive, safe and respectful.

Learn what to say, whether for yourself or someone else


Watch: Two Spirits PBS Documentary