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LGBTQIA+ mental health
Information about mental health support for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQIA+).
Support for LGBTQIA+ mental health
Mind is here for anyone experiencing a mental health problem. But we know that those of us with LGBTQIA+ 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.
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 LGBTQIA+ people, or both.
There are lots of different ways that you can do this. For example:
Contact Mind's Infoline or a local Mind
Find a local LGBTQIA+ support group
Some of these groups may also organise around other things you have in common. For example:
- Regional groups. The Consortium website lets you search for different types of LGBTIQ+ services in regions across the UK. This includes self-help and support groups.
- Workplace groups. Some organisations run LGBTQIA+ staff networks. If such a group doesn't exist at your workplace, but you'd like to set one up, see Stonewall's information on setting up network groups.
- Groups for LGBTQIA+ people of colour. The Consortium website lists LGBTQIA+ groups for people of colour. Stonewall has information on Black LGBTQIA+ organisations.
- Religious and faith groups. The Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG) website lists organisations supporting LGBTQIA+ people from different religious and faith groups.
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 LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ 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.
Volunteering can make you feel better about yourself and less alone. You could volunteer for an organisation supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. Or you could volunteer for any other cause you feel passionately about.
- Your local Volunteer Centre and the charity Volunteer by Do-It can help you find an opportunity in your area.
- The Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Voluntary and Community Organisations has an online directory of opportunities.
Think about your diet 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 LGBTQIA+ 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:
- Antidote, a specialist LGBTQ+ drugs and alcohol service run by London Friend
- the FRANK website
- our pages about the mental health effects of recreational drugs.
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.
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 LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+?
Opening up to a doctor about your personal thoughts and feelings isn't easy for anyone. Being LGBTQIA+ can make it feel even harder. There are lots of reasons to not want to come out as LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ people. Services they may provide include:
Many of these services employ staff or recruit volunteers that identify as LGBTQIA+.
To find services in your area, you could try:
- Mind's Infoline.
- The Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Voluntary and Community Organisations searchable directory of services.
You can find details of more organisations who offer mental health advice, support and services to LGBTQIA+ people on our useful contacts page.
Some local Minds may also offer services in your area which support LGBTQIA+ people.
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, anger, low self-esteem and internalised homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
- depression, anxiety 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 talking therapies service, but you can't yet filter online results to find LGBTQIA+ specific services. This service used to be known as IAPT, so you might still hear it called that.
- 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 LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ therapist. One of the LGBTQIA+ services listed in our useful contacts page might be able to help.
But even if your therapist does not identify as LGBTQIA+ themselves, they may still have experience of helping people with similar problems to you.
As an LGBTQIA+ 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:
- our legal pages about making a complaint about disability discrimination
- Mind's Legal Line, for information about mental health related law.
Coming out to my therapist
I was scared that they would just think I had mental health problems because I was gay.
This information was published in February 2020.
This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published.
References and bibliography available on request.
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