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Pride and Mental Health

Serco Wellbeing Newsletter, June 2023

Although the full range of LGBTQ+ identities are not commonly included in large-scale studies of mental health, there is strong evidence from recent research that members of this community are at a higher risk for experiencing mental health conditions — especially depression and anxiety disorders. LGB adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition. Transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals (people whose gender identity corresponds with their birth sex) individuals to experience a mental health condition.

Research suggests that LGBTQ+ individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide.

LGB youth experience greater risk for mental health conditions and suicidality. LGB youth are more than twice as likely to report experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness than their heterosexual peers. Transgender youth face further disparities as they are twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms, seriously consider suicide, and attempt suicide compared to cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and questioning youth.

Mental Health Resources:

Suggestions for being an ally:

Even if you don’t identify as someone within the LGBTQ+ community, you can always be supportive to friends, coworkers, loved ones, and the community at large through becoming an ally. Here’s how to start.

  • Educate yourself about issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Become familiar with basic terms like "coming out," "homophobia," "sexual orientation," and "gender identity or expression."

  • Learn about use of pronouns. If you’re unsure what to use, ask what pronouns the person would like to be addressed by. If you make a mistake, apologize, and correct yourself. You can list your own pronouns in your email signature to signal that you understand and respect addressing people by their preferred pronouns.

  • Ask questions. Be honest and admit if you don't know what a word means or what language to use. Don't let being nervous about using the "right" language keep you from interacting. If you aren't sure what words to use or what to say when talking with your LGBTQ+ friend or relative, ask for help or search online for the definition and use of the word.

  • Lead by example. Don't be afraid to speak up when other people act in a discriminatory way toward LGBTQ+ people, tell offensive jokes, or engage in anti-gay behavior.

  • Be respectful of people's privacy. Understand that some people may choose not to disclose personal information. Even if you suspect that someone might be gay, bisexual, or transgender, it’s their decision to share this.

  • Join efforts in your community to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues and to work for equality and non-discrimination. Participate in gay rights fundraisers or other "Pride" events, or volunteer at a support group or organization. Search online for organizations such as PFLAG, which helps those struggling to understand their gender identity, offers support for the LGBTQ+ community, and is a helpful organization for their family and friends.

  • Treat others as you would like to be treated. Remember that actions speak louder than words.

Sources: LifeWorks, Mental Health America, National Alliance for Mental Illness

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