- The LGBTQ+ community consists of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning) individuals.
- While society is growing increasingly supportive of LGBTQ+, these individuals still face unique challenges that can harm their mental health and overall wellbeing.
- Fortunately, counseling can help; with issues like deciding how and when to come out, dealing with discrimination, and managing mental illness.
- Looking at the prevalence of mental illness in the LGBTQ+ community, these individuals are three times more likely to experience a mental health condition.
- Additionally, LGBTQ+ individuals are 2.5 times more likely to develop depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
- Counselors can help their LGBTQ+ clients work through their unique problems by first getting to know them, including their presenting issues.
- LGBTQ+ counselors also work to understand their clients’ goals so that they can help them lead more successful lives, too.
- After the counselors get to know their client better, they can then design treatment to best help them live an overall better life.
Ellen DeGeneres came out as gay in a 1997 issue of Time Magazine—and lost her TV show as a result. The entertainment industry was less than supportive and many refused to offer DeGeneres other career opportunities. But she did not let this dull her light. In fact, she continued to shine as her true self, going on to build a mighty career in comedy and daytime TV. Today, DeGeneres is an inspiring and motivating voice for many, including the LGBTQ+ community.
The LGBTQ+ community is comprised of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning). While society is becoming increasingly supportive of this community—thanks, in part, to the brave celebrities who have spoken their truth like DeGeneres—LGBTQ+ individuals still face unique challenges that threaten their mental health on a day to day basis. Fortunately, mental health professionals can offer these individuals the guidance and support they need in counseling. And there are even providers who specialize in LGBTQ+ issues.
LGBTQ+ Issues: Mental Illness and Other Challenges
There are unique challenges in the LGBTQ+ community, like deciding how and when to come out to friends and family. Or, dealing with the discrimination and disapproval they face from others. Additional issues that are common in the LGBTQ+ community center around:
- Dating and building relationships with others
- Transcending gender roles
- Depression and anxiety
- Family problems
- Lack of self-esteem
- Trauma and PTSD
As you can see in the mental health issues listed above, there is huge mental health disparity among the LGBTQ+ community. These individuals are more likely to suffer from a mental health condition. Consider a few statistics from Mental Health America:
- LGBTQ+ individuals are three times more likely to experience a mental health condition.
- The LGBTQ+ community is 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
- LGBTQ+ kids and teens are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, attempt suicide, and self-harm.
- 20-30% of LGBTQ+ individuals develop substance abuse.
Counseling can help the LGBTQ+ community to address these challenges, from the mental illness(es) they may struggle with to other life issues like building relationships with others and talking to loved ones about their sexual orientation and identity.
How Can Counseling Help LGBTQ+ Individuals?
The mental health disparity mentioned above begs the need for proper mental health care in the LGBTQ+ community. Fortunately, more and more counselors understand the challenges these individuals face and are trained to best serve them. Often, they will start by getting to know the individual, including their unique presentation of issues as well as their life goals.
If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community and you decide to pursue counseling, your counselor might ask the following to get to know you better:
- What are your interests?
- Are you currently in a relationship?
- What is your living situation like?
- Are you happy with your life right now?
- What are you struggling with?
Working with an LGBTQ+ Counselor to Live Better
It’s important to know that counseling often focuses on more than just the problem at hand. A counselor’s ultimate mission is to help their client live an overall happier, healthier, and/or more successful life.
This often means that one’s counseling sessions will involve discussing and working toward their goals in addition to making positive changes to best benefit one’s mental health and wellbeing. That said, no one counseling journey is the same: your counselor will design treatment based on all of the information they gather in your initial sessions. The end goal, though, is always the same: to help you live better.
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