Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer Issues (LGBTQ)
Learning to be yourself and dealing with other people's perception of you can be hard for anyone. This process can be especially stressful or tough for students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ). In fact, they can face unique issues when it comes to mental health. The discrimination LGBTQ students may face or the pressure they feel from their family or community can put them at greater risk for emotional health struggles like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide.
If you or someone you know is struggling with issues related to sexuality [or gender] pressures of not being accepted by family, friends or community, it's important to speak up. By developing strong coping skills, creating a positive social network, and seeking help if needed, LGBTQ students can protect their emotional health during college and beyond.
LGBTQ individuals who are dealing with mental health conditions like depression may have to contend with even more stigma because of discrimination or misunderstandings related to their sexual orientation, [gender, or gender expression]. Having to deal with the additional stigma can worsen mental health conditions. Here are some tips for overcoming stigma:
- Surround yourself with supportive people. Check to see if your campus has groups for LGBTQ students. It's a great way to find people who can relate to what you're going through.
- Seek help. If you're experiencing sadness, anxiety or stress that is interfering with your ability to get things done and live a fulfilling life, make an appointment with a mental health counselor on campus. It's the first step toward feeling better.
- Remember it has nothing to do with you. Society creates and perpetuates stigma about many groups. Remember that others' reactions to your sexual identity [sexual orientation, gender, or gender expression] are not your fault, and say nothing about the person you are.
- Join an advocacy group. To further fight stigma, it might help you to participate in a mental health or LGBTQ advocacy group on campus.
Helping Your Friend
If you have a friend who's told you about their sexual orientation and/or emotional health struggles, there are various ways you can support them. Here are some suggestions.
- Listen and empathize. You might experience a variety of emotions - like confusion, surprise and sadness - when finding out about a friend's sexual orientation or emotional health issues. This is to be expected. They are normal responses. When talking to them, don't interrupt and remain open to what they're saying. Avoid judging them, and try to put yourself in their shoes.
- Get educated. Learn more about mental illness and the concerns that LGBTQ individuals might have. This helps you better understand what your friend is going through and know how to help them.
- Challenge the stigma. Try not to make derogatory comments about LGBTQ individuals. Even jokes just further stereotypes and stigma. Speak up when others make comments or jokes.
(Adapted from the Jed Foundation by adding language in .)
- LPC Gay Straight Alliance
- Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG): A national organization with over 200,000 members and supporters and over 500 affiliates in the United States. Their mission is to promote the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and their families and friends, to end discrimination, and to secure equal civil rights.
- The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS): Well-respected organization that provides education and information about sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, and advocates the right of individuals to make responsible sexual choices.
- The Trevor Project: The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including a nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community, and advocacy/educational programs. 24-hour Crisis Intervention Lifeline: 866-488-7386
- The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Non-profit organization that strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
- Transgender Law & Policy Institute's page on colleges, universities, and K-12 schools.
- Best Practices to Support Transgender and Other Gender-Nonconforming Students
General Mental Health Resources
The menu on the right will link you to information on specific mental health topics. -->
Below are additional links to excellent websites for mental health information:
- Go Ask Alice: Website operated by Columbia University to answer the questions of college students on issues related to physical health, mental health, and sexuality.
- Half Of Us: This engaging youth-oriented site uses video stories of students and high-profile artists to increase awareness about mental health issues and the importance of getting help.
- Healthyminds.org: This website of the American Psychiatric Association offers a broad array of information on topics related to mental health.
- Helpguide: Website operated by a non-profit organization offers information and resources on a broad range of mental health topics.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): An advocacy group for people living with mental illness and their loved ones. Good source of information and resources on mental health topics.
- ReachOut.com: An information and support service using evidence based principles and technology to help teens and young adults facing tough times and struggling with mental health issues.
- ULifeLine.org: An online resource for college students with information about protecting your emotional health and what to do if you or friends are struggling with mental health issues.
- Student Health 101