Behavioral Health & the LGBTQ+ Community

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Adults who identify as LGBTQ+ are more than twice as likely to experience a mental health condition than those who identify as straight, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Many things go into a person’s mental health. And the LGBTQ+ community can be strongly impacted because of  traumatic experiences, discrimination, a lack of support system and other factors.

LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health: Substance Use, Depression & Anxiety

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, substance use as a coping mechanism or self-medication is a significant concern for the LGBTQ+ community. Based on their data, LGBTQ+ adults are “nearly twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a substance use disorder. Transgender individuals are almost four times as likely as cisgender individuals to experience a substance use disorder.”

Substance use can often coexist with other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

“Using substances as ‘self-medicating’ can be a way that some people attempt to mitigate symptoms of depression, anxiety and/or feelings of loneliness, isolation or rejection,” said Darcey Cunningham, MA, LPC, outpatient psychotherapist at the Mental Health Center of Denver. “A sense of belonging is a natural need for human beings. and this group has historically been denied this by family, peers, religion, society and the government.”

Suicide Prevention

Based on statistics reported by Mental Health America, LGBTQ+ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide compared to youths who identify as heterosexual. And, according to the same report, “forty-eight percent of transgender adults report that they have considered suicide in the last year, compared to 4 percent of the overall US population.”

Click here for resources on suicide prevention, including a list of warning signs, advice for asking questions and more.

Access Services & Resources

The Mental Health Center of Denver provides mental health and well-being services to individuals across the lifespan. Click here to access services or call 303.504.7900. 

In addition, the Colorado Department of Human Services’ Office of Behavioral Health has resources for prevention, treatment and recovery from substance use and mental health disorders at colorado.gov/ladders.

If you or someone you know is in immediate crisis, call Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-TALK (8255), or text TALK to 38255. Colorado Crisis Services also operates walk-in crisis centers across metro Denver that are open 24/7 and offer confidential, in-person crisis support.