June is officially recognized as PRIDE Month, and it is crucial that TN Voices, a non-profit that works to provide a source of referral, support, and advocacy for families and the systems that serve them, continues to work to assist the LGBTQ+ community in mental health support services, and shine a light on disparities in this underserved population.

LGBTQ+ persons are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, lowered self-esteem and even suicidal thoughts compared to their straight and cisgender peers. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

  • Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition

  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning people are at a higher risk than the general population for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts

  • High school students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are almost 5 times as likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers

  • 48% of all transgender adults report that they have considered suicide in the past 12 months, compared to 4% of the overall US population.

LGBTQ+ youth are especially at risk, particularly those who live without a healthy support system, hostile school conditions, and bullying from peers. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated mental health issues for those who identify as LGBTQ+, especially communities of color and people living with HIV/AIDS, according to a recent study conducted by the Human Rights Campaign.

A disturbing prevalence also exists with drug and alcohol misuse among LGBTQ+ teens and adults. An estimated 20 to 30% of LGBTQ+ people misuse substances, compared to about 9% of the general population. This same population is almost 3 times more likely than others to experience major depression and anxiety disorders.

If you are a Tennessee LGBTQ+ resident who is unemployed or without insurance and you are in need of mental health services, you can call the TN Voices Hope Fund hotline at 615.269.7751.

If you or someone you love needs help maintaining your mental health, TN Voices staff are available to serve you at 1.800.670.9882. To donate to help fund mental health services for Tennesseans in need, log onto TNVoices.org/Donate.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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