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Mental Health

LGBTQ mental health must be understood in the context of historical and ongoing pathologization of LGBTQ identities. With the publication of the DSMIII-R in 1986 the American Psychiatric Association delisted homosexuality as a mental disorder and mental health associations repudiated attempts to change sexual orientation as psychologically damaging.
The World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders 1990. Despite this, significant stigma is still attached to same-sex attraction in many cultures, and trans people continue to be pathologized as having Gender Identity Disorder, which continues to be listed in the DSM as a diagnostic category.
what is mental health
The World Health Organization defines mental health as "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” LGBTQ mental health is likewise shaped by a sense of self-worth, the level of stress to which people are subjected, and the inclusiveness of their workplaces and community culture.
mental health of lgbtq people
  • Large Canadian studies indicate that LGBTQ people are more likely than heterosexuals to report unmet mental health needs and were more likely to consult mental health practitioners.
  • Studies have found high rates of depression, anxiety, obsessive–compulsive and phobic disorders, suicidal thoughts and acts, self-harm, and alcohol and drug dependence among LGBTQ people.
  • LGBTQ people are one and almost twice as likely to experience childhood maltreatment, interpersonal violence, and personal loss and are at double the risk of developing post traumatic stress disorder as their heterosexual peers.
  • Meta-analysis studies found that sexual minority individuals were two and a half times more likely than heterosexuals to have attempted suicide and had a risk of depression and anxiety one and a half times higher than heterosexuals.
  • Sexual minority women were particularly at risk for substance-related disorders, while sexual minority men had a higher risk of suicide. 
  • LGBTQ youth have an increased risk of suicide, substance abuse, isolation and experiencing sexual abuse. A Canadian study estimated that the risk of suicide among LGBTQ youth is 14 times higher than for their heterosexual peers. A recent U.S. study of LGBTQ youth found that 10% of them met the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and 15% met the criteria for major depression.
  • A large statistically representative study of trans people in Ontario found that 77% had seriously considered suicide, and 45% had attempted suicide. Trans youth were at greatest risk of suicidality, as were those who had experienced physical or sexual assault.

Information on this page provided by Rainbow Health Ontario.