There is no question about it: some members of the population suffer from higher rates of mental illness than others. Tragically, this includes members of the LGBTQ+ community. Numerous studies have found that members of this population are far more likely to suffer from a slew of mental illnesses and addiction problems than the rest of the population. However, a vitally important caveat must be made: This does not occur because of anything inherent to their sexuality or gender identity but because of the reaction of others to it.

Fortunately, with supportive treatment, members of this community can recover and lead a happy and healthy life.

The Facts on LGBTQ+ Mental Illness

Tragically, the facts are stark. Consider the following:

  • According to census information, 4.5% of people in the United States reported being a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Thirty-nine percent reported having a mental illness over the past year.
  • Within these communities, individuals who are bisexual or transgender have the highest rates of mental illness and substance use disorders.
  • Individuals who are transgender are also at the highest risk of suicide or being victims of violence. One horrific study found that 82% of transgender individuals have considered suicide.
  • These issues are even more serious for LGBTQ+ youth, particularly those who live in communities not as supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals.

This reality can make life extremely difficult for members of this community. It may also mean they need treatment options to help them deal with their mental illness or substance abuse. Fortunately, treatment exists that can address both of these problems. Click here to read more information on how substance use disorder treatment works. 

Why LGBTQ+ Individuals Are More Likely To Suffer From Mental Illness and Addiction

It is worth reemphasizing that being LGBTQ+ is not a mental illness, and while there was once a time when science erroneously believed that it was, we have since moved on from this ill-founded belief. This begs the question: Why are members of this community more likely to suffer from mental illness, and what risk factors make this mental illness more likely? 

The answer to this question is twofold: stigma and access. Virtually all members of the LGBTQ+ community experience stigma and a lack of social support at some point, and these two factors can degrade mental health and force individuals to turn to substances to cope with problems. In some cases — such as if an individual lives in a culturally conservative area or is one of the only members of an LGBTQ+ community — these issues can be dramatically exacerbated.

This challenge of access often compounds the issue. Even if a member of the LGBTQ+ community recognizes that they have a mental illness, they may be less likely to seek help, as they may be concerned with finding a therapist or support system familiar with LGBTQ+ issues. As such, they may be reluctant to seek assistance. These issues are, again, made worse if an individual lives in a community where attitudes toward LGBTQ+ individuals are less evolved.

Treatment Best Practices

Fortunately, LGBTQ+ individuals — just like any other member of the population — can lead a good and happy life, provided they seek the right treatment and have access to supportive care. 

Treatment centers that want to support the LGBTQ+ community often benefit from explicitly stating that they support the LGBTQ+ community and reviewing specific ways that they work with members of this community to help them overcome their issues. At Transformation Mending Fences, we are deeply proud of our work with members of this community, understand their challenges, and are dedicated to creating a recovery community that helps all individuals.

Other treatment best practices include:

  • Ensuring staff has appropriate training and education on the specific challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Creating safe and supportive environments in group and individual therapy enables individuals to be comfortable with themselves and express their feelings, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • Educating staff about the specific treatment challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community and how these challenges can be overcome.
  • Understanding the specific role that societal attitudes — including discrimination — can play in the mental health of LGBTQ+ individuals. 

Many members of the LGBTQ+ community may also benefit from treatment modalities traditionally thought of as “alternative.” For example, equine-assisted therapy can often be extremely beneficial for mental illness or substance abuse. Click here to read more about this relatively new treatment modality. 

Get Help From an LGBTQ+ Supportive Community

At Transformation Mending Fences, we understand the unique burden members of the LGBTQ+ community face. We know that recovery is possible for everyone, including our LGBTQ+ friends. We pride ourselves on offering a supportive community for all individuals, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity. We also understand that recovering from a mental illness can take many forms and offer various treatment programs that we can customize to fit your needs.

Ready to take the next step? Contact us today, and learn more about how Transformation Mending Fences can help you or a loved one recover from a mental illness or substance use disorder.