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LGBT mental health

Some of us identify ourselves as LGBT, which means we may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans – or we may define our gender and sexuality in other ways.

LGBT people can be at a higher risk of experiencing a mental health problem, suicidal thoughts, and self harm than the wider population. If you are LGBT and have experienced mental health issues, you are not alone.

  • Evidence indicates that the increased risk of mental disorder in LGBT people is linked to experiences of discrimination
  • LGBT people are more likely to report both daily and lifetime discrimination than heterosexual people
  • Gay men and bisexual people are significantly more likely to say that they have been fired unfairly from their job because of discrimination
  • Lesbians are more likely to have experienced verbal and physical intimidation than heterosexual women
  • Discrimination has been shown to be linked to an increase in deliberate self-harm in LGBT people
  • LGBT people demonstrate higher rates of anxiety and depression than heterosexuals
  • Lesbians and bisexual women may be at more risk of substance dependency than other women

(See NHS briefing for detailed stats)




Many LGBT people have experienced:

  • hostility or rejection from family, parents and friends
  • bullying and name calling at school
  • rejection by most mainstream religions
  • danger of violence in public places
  • harassment from neighbours and other tenants
  • casual homophobic comments on an everyday basis
  • embarrassed responses (and occasionally prejudice) from professionals, such as GPs
  • no protection against discrimination at work
  • negative portrayal of gay people in the media


The effect on your mental health

Experiencing these difficulties can mean many LGBT people face mental health issues, including:

  • difficulty accepting their sexual orientation, leading to conflicts, denial, alcohol abuse and isolation
  • trying to keep their sexuality a secret through lying, pretending or leading a double life
  • low self-esteem
  • increased risk of self-harm and suicide attempts
  • damaged relationships or lack of support from families
  • post-traumatic stress disorder and depression from long-term effects of bullying
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