for better mental health

LGBTIQ+ mental health

Gives information about mental health support for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer or questioning (LGBTIQ+).

Support for LGBTIQ+ mental health

Mind is here for anyone experiencing a mental health problem. But we know that those of us with LGBTIQ+ identities may face extra challenges around getting the right support. And we sometimes have extra needs or concerns.

The tips on this page may help.

Remember that different things work for different people at different times. Only try what you feel comfortable with, and try not to put too much pressure on yourself.

It might feel hard to start talking about how you are feeling. But many people find that sharing their experiences can help them feel better. It may be that just having someone listen to you and show they care can help in itself. 

If you aren't able to open up to someone close to you, there are several LGBTIQ+ helplines you can call, such as Switchboard. See our useful contacts page for other suggestions. 

Making connections with people who have similar or shared experiences can be really helpful. This could be other people with mental health problems, or other LGBTIQ+ people, or both.

There are lots of different ways that you can do this. For example:

Contact Mind's Infoline or a local Mind

Contact Mind's Infoline or a local Mind to see what support there is in your area. Some local Minds may run LGBTIQ+ programmes.

Find a local LGBTIQ+ support group

Some of these groups may also organise around other things you have in common. For example:

You can find out more about these options from our pages on peer support. This includes more tips on how to find a group that suits you.

Try an online peer support community

For example, Mind's online peer support community welcomes LGBTIQ+ people. It offers a friendly, non-judgemental space to talk about how you feel.

If you're using the internet, it's important to look after your online wellbeing. See our pages on online mental health for more information.

Try a mentoring programme

Some universities and workplaces offer mentoring schemes for LGBTIQ+ people. Each programme differs, but having a mentor can help increase your confidence.

Self-care means things we do for ourselves to help improve our mental and physical health.

Internalised homophobia, biphobia or transphobia might mean you struggle to be kind to yourself. But practising self-care can help boost your self-esteem. We have included some ideas below which may help.

Try joining an LGBTIQ+ specific group

This could be anything from a community project to a hobby group. The important thing is to find an activity you enjoy to help you feel motivated. LGBTQ Meetups is one way you can find such groups. 

Try volunteering

Volunteering can make you feel better about yourself and less alone. You could volunteer for an organisation supporting the LGBTIQ+ community. Or you could volunteer for any other cause you feel passionately about.

Think about your diet and sleep 

Improving your diet and the quality of your sleep can help your mental health. You can find more about this from our pages on food and mood and sleep

Try to do some physical activity

Exercise can help improve your mood. You can exercise by yourself or you could try joining an LGBTIQ+ sports group. You could find a group using Pride Sports' LGBT+ Sports Club Finder. Our pages on physical activity and mental health have more tips.

"I often get asked why I play for a LGBT+ team... it provides a safe space to play and also it allows me to meet like-minded people in a space that doesn't revolve around bars and clubs, which felt at the time to be the only way of meeting gay people."

Try to avoid recreational drugs and alcohol

You might want to use these to cope with difficult feelings. But heavy use of alcohol or drugs can make existing mental health problems worse. It may also contribute to new ones. You can find more information and support from:

Look after your sexual health

Sexual health is an important part of your physical and mental health. Poor mental health can contribute to you taking risks with your sexual health. But this can have long-term health consequences. Living with a long-term health condition can also affect your mental health. For example, depression is more common among those of us living with HIV. You can find more information and support from the LGBT Foundation and the Terrence Higgins Trust.

See our page on self-care for mental health problems to find more ideas. Our pages on tips for everyday living could also help.

Your doctor (GP) is there to help you with your mental health as well as your physical health. They could:

  • make a diagnosis
  • offer you support and treatments, such as self-help resources, talking therapies, and possibly medication
  • refer you to a specialist LGBTIQ+ mental health service, if one exists near you.

Find out more about how to talk to your doctor in our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem.

Do I have to tell them I'm LGBTIQ+?

Opening up to a doctor about your personal thoughts and feelings isn't easy for anyone. Being LGBTIQ+ can make it feel even harder. There are lots of reasons to not want to come out as LGBTIQ+ to your doctor when you talk to them about your mental health. And lots of reasons you might feel anxious about what will happen if you do.

You don't have to tell your doctor that you're LGBTIQ+ to get their help. But if you do, they they might find it easier to get you the right support.

If you do decide to tell them, you could rehearse what you will say first with someone you trust. An LGBTIQ+ helpline such as Switchboard could also help you practise this conversation.

What if my doctor is unhelpful?

Unfortunately, you might not get the help you need right away. Bad experiences of healthcare staff can be discouraging. But no matter your background, sexuality or identity, you deserve support.

Our page on facing and overcoming barriers when seeking help has some more tips. It also tells you how you can complain about bad treatment.

Specialist organisations exist that provide mental health support to LGBTIQ+ people. Services they may provide include:

Many of these services employ staff or recruit volunteers that identify as LGBTIQ+.

To find services in your area, you could try:

You can also find details of more organisations who offer mental health advice, support and services to LGBTIQ+ people on our useful contacts page.

"I needed somewhere where I could be open about being trans and be open about mental health."

Talking therapies involve talking to a trained professional about your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. They can help you manage and cope with:

  • difficult life events, such as bad experiences of coming out 
  • relationship problems, such as rejection from family, friends or your community
  • upsetting or traumatic experiences. This could be something recent or something that happened a long time ago
  • difficult emotions, such as guilt, sadness, confusion, angerlow self-esteem and internalised homophobia, biphobia and transphobia 
  • depressionanxiety and other mental health problems
  • living with a long-term physical health problem. 

You can find a therapist through:

  • The NHS. You can ask your doctor to refer you. Any therapy provided through the NHS should be free of charge. In some areas of England you can self-refer through the NHS IAPT programme, but you can't yet filter online results to find LGBTIQ+ specific services. 
  • The private sector. You may decide to find a private therapist, but it's not an option for everyone because it can be expensive. Pink Therapy's online directory lists therapists who work with LGBTIQ+ clients. 
  • The third sector. Some charity sector organisations may also offer free or low-cost talking therapies. This could include some LGBTIQ+ charities.

See our page on how to find a therapist for more information.   

Your therapist's identity

Your relationship with your therapist is an important factor in how successful any therapy is for you.

If you would prefer to work with a therapist from the LGBTIQ+ community, it's best to mention it during your first contact with the service. Unfortunately, not all services will be able to match you with an LGBTIQ+ therapist. One of the LGBTIQ+ services listed in our useful contacts page might be able to help. 

But even if your therapist does not identify as LGBTIQ+ themselves, they may still have experience of helping people with similar problems to you. 

As an LGBTIQ+ person, you have the same rights to healthcare as anyone else. It is illegal for UK healthcare providers to discriminate based on:

  • your sexual or gender identity
  • your mental health problems (if they are a disability)
  • other characteristics protected in the Equality Act 2010.

If you think you have been discriminated against, there are things you can do to challenge it. You can find out more from:

Coming out to my therapist

"I was scared that they wouldn’t understand what being gay was like, that they would just think I had mental health problems because I was gay."

Getting help for suicidal feelings 

If you find you are feeling suicidal you should discuss it with a doctor as soon as possible.

If you feel in crisis right now, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 (freephone). Or you can go to your local hospital's A&E department. Our pages on crisis services discuss more options.

This information was published in February 2020. We will revise it in 2023.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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