Homosexuality (LGBT) and Mental Health Issues
There are issues to consider around homosexuality and mental health. While being gay is not a mental illness in any way, studies do show that lesbian, gay and bisexual people show greater levels of anxiety, depression, substance use disorders and suicidal feelings.1 This is likely due to the gay discrimination and stigma that these groups face and not due to their sexuality.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can, of course, have a mental illness like any other person but the American Psychological Association is explicit when not characterizing homosexuality as a mental illness:2
"Homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social and vocational capabilities. Further, the American Psychological Association urges all mental health professionals to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with homosexual orientations."
Homosexual Mental Health Issues
In order to prevent undue harm to these groups, homosexual mental health issues should be dealt with. When you consider that, in one study, nearly half of all gay people reported discrimination based on their sexuality,3 it's understandable that LGBT mental health issues arise due to their increased stress.
Homosexual mental health concerns include:
- Anxiety disorders, including panic attacks
- OCD-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Depression (Homosexuals and Depression: Help for Gays with Depression)
- Suicidal feelings and acts (Gay and Lesbian Suicide: Options to Cope)
- Substance use and abuse
- Bipolar disorder
What's more, LGBT mental health issues often start in the childhood and teen years with LGB youth being at a 14 times higher risk for suicide than their heterosexual peers.
Getting Help for LGBT Mental Health
It's important to know, though, that mental health for LGBT people is available. Local LGBT groups can often point the way to local homosexual mental health help including support groups.
Many doctors and therapists also self-identify as being gay friendly or specializing in issues of homosexual mental health. You can find these doctors through online profiles, doctor rating sites, local LGBT groups and through the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists is also available.
LGBT mental health help is also available through GLBT National Help Center:
- GLBT National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
- GLBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743)
- Online peer-support chat: http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org/chat/index.html
Last Updated: 18 August 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD