The Expert Angle

Mental Health Matters: The LGBTQIA+ Community

Mental Health Matters: The LGBTQIA+ Community

Posted on: November 8, 2022 | By: Riley Keenan , Program Director, Coordinated Assessment Kaleidoscope Advocate

As we transition into a post pandemic world, we find ourselves frequently discussing the importance of mental health. The time to prioritize mental health is now. However, every individual and community faces unique challenges to their mental health, particularly the LGBTQIA+ community.

A report from The Trevor Project showed that 73% of LGBTQIA+ youth report experiencing symptoms of anxiety, 58% report symptoms of depression, and 45% report having seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. According to the US Transgender Survey, 40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide during their lifetime, compared to less than 5% of the general U.S. population.

The mental health of the LGBTQIA+ community matters. As a society, we can all do a better job in educating ourselves and using these statistics to understand what the LGBTQIA+ population generally experiences. Being an ally means knowing how and when support is needed. Simply being present and aware of specific high stress times in someone’s life can be incredibly important in your role as an ally. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, the following are potential high-risk mental health occurrences in the LGBTQIA+ community.

  • Deciding it is time to come out or share one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Rejection following an individual’s coming out journey.
  • General trauma or discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • The use of substances to cope, homelessness, or even talk of suicide.

These situations can leave a person feeling vulnerable and alone, and could potentially result in detrimental effects on an individual’s future and well-being. That’s why support for the LGBTQIA+ community and a better understanding of mental health is greatly needed.

It may be difficult to know exactly what to do or say when an LGBTQIA+ individual you care about is experiencing mental health struggles. Remember to listen without judgment, acknowledge the difficulty of what they experienced or are currently going through, show your concern by telling them that you care about them, and always use inclusive language that affirms their gender identity and sexual orientation. By taking these steps, you can play a critical role in providing someone with the support and care they need during an emotionally challenging time.

Services are available to provide much needed support to New Jersey’s LGBTQIA+ teens and young adults. Kaleidoscope is a community-based LGBTQIA+ program that centers on the mental health and well-being of its participants. This peer-led group’s mission is to empower LGBTQIA+ allied teens and young adults to lead healthy, productive lives. Kaleidoscope is committed to fostering a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all people, respecting and celebrating the beautiful diversity of sexual and affectional orientations and gender identities and expressions. 

To learn more about Kaleidoscope, including meeting details, visit our website.

To connect to resources and information about statewide LGBTQIA+ resources call the 24/7 hotline NJ PRISM at 844.657.7476 (844. NJPRISM).