LGBTQIA+ mental health experiences

by Tricia Gehl

Last updated Jun 05, 2023

In the journey towards mental well-being, it’s essential to recognise and address the unique challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ communities, ensuring that mental health care is inclusive, affirming, and tailored to their specific needs. 

For Pride Month 2023, Tricia Gehl, MYNDUP practitioner and LGBTQIA+ Ally, sat down with friends in the LGBTQIA+ communities to identify some of the challenges they face when seeking mental health support, what practitioners need to understand to best serve the queer communities, and more.

As a member of the LGBTQIA+ Communities, what is the number one challenge or roadblock you face when it comes to your own mental health? 

Sage C, a transmasc nonbinary writer who uses he/him/his pronouns: 

“I find it challenging to find a therapist who is understanding of my particular situation. I'm a transmasc nonbinary person, and also polyamorous. A lot of my therapy sessions used to be me explaining the ins and outs of that, and it can get tiring to have to advocate for yourself in a setting where you're supposed to be comfortable with your therapist.”

V.V., a transgender female artist:

“I’m realising now that in life, the criteria for diagnosing queer people is severely lacking. So much of my mental and emotional health could have been taken care of if doctors knew how to see through a lens other than the straight white male gaze. I have had to advocate for myself because doctors don’t believe me.”

Joe D, a gay male marketing project manager in the consulting industry:

“The number one roadblock I face when it comes to my own mental health is finding therapists who understand my unique situation. Growing up knowing I was different, hiding my true self, and being bullied because of who I am have left a mark on who I am as an adult. Being able to connect with a professional who understands the challenges, trauma, and scars of coming to terms with who we are as LGBTQIA+ people is important to aiding our healing.”

Gina, a lesbian software engineer: 

“Navigating situations on a case by case basis to decide how much of myself I can actually reveal. Do I feel safe enough to out myself? How much do I feel comfortable sharing?.”

Robin K, a lesbian in the real estate industry:
“More research or data to use about us. This shows up a lot in terms of data on straight couples and therapists trying to plug in same sex couples. It isn’t always equivalent.”

What might prevent someone in the LGBTQIA+ Communities from seeking out mental health support?

Eric, a gay male in his 40s working in the financial services industry, shared:

“What may hold back a member of the LGBTQIA+ communities about having full honest conversations with a mental health practitioner include stigma of speaking with a professional and the fear of getting a professional who does not understand needs specific to the communities.”

Sage C:

“My experience of therapists is to not have the best understanding of pronoun usage, especially neopronoun usage, there is a hesitancy to go to a therapist that does not specifically put down the moniker of having experience with LGBT+ individuals.”

Sean P: a cisgender gay male writer/performer working in the entertainment industry:

“Safety or acceptance is the main reason I have been reluctant to seek out mental health care in the past. Going blind into an appointment can be stressful. I don’t know where this practitioner stands on queer issues, and if I don’t feel safe it will impede honesty which defeats the whole purpose of the visit. It would be nice to know right out of the gate if the practitioner was comfortable talking about queer issues.”

Michael T: a gay male working as a study project manager for a top 10 pharmaceutical company:

“Again, stigma. Fear of not looking ‘perfect’ as I mentioned before. Always feeling the need to ‘keep up’ at whatever cost.”


“Fear of (or frustration with) not being able to find someone who can understand your situation enough to fully support your needs.”

Robin K:

“Not feeling like we are understood or are seen with the nuances we come with. Also feeling discriminated against or like we have to hide something.”

What does mental well-being look and sound like for you as a member of the LGBTQIA+ Communities?

Sage C:

“Mental well-being to me looks like someone being able to live their true and authentic self in a way that makes them feel safe. A lot of that has to do with external political factors, societal influence, etc. With better access to mental health facilities that foster acceptance, the stepping stones to feeling comfortable in public become a little closer together.”


“Mental health would look like communal care. Mental health would place queer people in positions to help other queer people. Mental health would look like safe spaces for queer bodies.”

Sean P:

“Mental well being for someone in queer communities looks like a person who is living a fulfilled life without worrying about being queer. Living a life without fear of their physical, mental, and financial safety being threatened because of who they are and who they love. Our queerness being a non-issue. Beginning to deal with all the other problems humans have to deal with without that being an added factor. Because of outside factors, this isn’t possible, but the mental state of self acceptance and liberation is. That, to me, is queer well being.”

Michael T:

“Openness. Being able to love oneself without the pressure of other LGBTQIA+  Allowing everyone to go through what they are going through and figure out the healing path that is right for them.  Everyone is different, and so is their healing journey.”

Joe D:

“It could look like someone is confident and accepting of their true, authentic selves. It could look like there is less substance abuse in the community to mask one's true feelings.”


“Being able to be in any situation feeling like I can be myself without the fear or anxiety.”

Robin K.:

“Understanding from family, friends, community and society as a whole.”

What words of advice would you have for mental health practitioners who are treating and supporting individuals within the LGBTQIA+ Communities?


“Mental health is important for everyone, and taking that first step to work with a professional can be a huge act of bravery. Not everyone will fit the same mould about age, race, gender identity/expression, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, traumas, and struggles, so it is important for the mental health care professional to listen and devise agreeable exercises unique to the participant's trajectory and needs.”

Sage C:

“It's okay to not know something. Doing research and telling your client that you aren't familiar with a concept, but will do research related to it is just as comforting as understanding it in the first place. Putting all of the burden of answering questions on your client can be rough, and doing your own research can help ease any discomfort. Yes, there will still have to be questions to understand nuance, but having a baseline understanding makes that far easier. Have patience with your clients; putting any amount of your personal life on the table is incredibly brave and needs to be something you treat with gentleness and kindness. Let them explain if they want to explain, and don't be afraid to admit you don't recognise a term and open up Google. It's how we all learn.”


“My advice would be to show up for us. Be humble in our spaces. Listen. See. Allyship is more than rainbows for a few months. It’s seeking out the flaws in the bureaucracy to advocate for your patients because you see them as humans and not numbers and statistics.”

Sean P:

“My advice for mental health practitioners working with a queer person? We’re people. Our sexuality and gender identities don’t define us, but we are forced every day to grapple with them in our respective societies. We are dealing with all the same issues that you are, we just also have to worry about being assaulted based on who we might be holding hands with in public. Expression of love and romance is a pivotal part of the human experience, and ours usually must be hidden for fear of reprisal from people who are disgusted we exist. But we also still have to deal with the same problems as everyone else.”

Michael T:

“Much of what people need across the board boils down to similar things, there is a layer that is different for us. Even those of us with fewer issues have likely gone through some trauma of some sort simply for being part of the community. 


“Educate yourself on the needs of people within the community. Stay open to learning and growing so you can be there to support people who really need your help.”

Robin K:

“Do better. Research same sex couples and members of the LGBT+ communities so our care can also be data-driven and we feel relevant. Also it’s not necessarily a one-to-one swap (eg: I’m a woman but I’m also a lesbian and what you recommend for a straight woman might not work for me).”

If you've had positive experiences with a mental health practitioner in the past, what contributed to that experience? What specifically did those practitioners bring to the table?

Robin K:

“They acknowledged how I felt and what might be lacking in the mental health field. Also they brought up the conversation with other professionals in the field about lack of data on LGBT+ communities. 

Most importantly they got to know me as a person and didn’t just treat me as a group, but an individual. They also left space to learn.”

What critical gaps do you feel need to be addressed and prioritised when it comes to mental health care for those in the LGBTQIA+ Community?

Robin K:

“More research or data to use about us. This shows up a lot in terms of data on straight couples and therapists trying to plug in same sex couples. It isn’t always equivalent.”

What specific needs within the LGBTQIA+ Community aren't being met by the mental health care industry and its practitioners?

Robin K: 

“Some within our community feel the lack of availability or accessibility to quality mental health assistance especially when it counts (thoughts of suicide, volatility, etc).”

If you feel like you’d benefit from having a chat with someone about any aspects of your mental health and wellbeing as a member or ally of the LGBTQIA+ communities, please reach out to one of our amazing practitioners. They have extensive experience, and they would love to speak with you. 

If you are unsure about which practitioner to choose, please reach out to us at - we’d be pleased to help you! 

Everyone at MYNDUP would like to wish you all an amazing 2023 PRIDE! 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributors interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author, MYNDUP, or other associated parties.

Written by:
Tricia Gehl
Tricia is a personal & professional development life and wellness coach. Her mission is to support people in understanding what is blocking them from reaching their potential, and providing tools to navigate the emotions of everyday life. She is an ally for the LGBTQ+ community.


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