The evidence is clear: if you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, then you’re more likely to experience poor mental health than the rest of the population.

The scale of the problem has become harder to ignore in recent years, with many independent studies coming to the same conclusion.

LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, self-harm, and other mental health issues. The exact reasons for this are still being explored, but it’s thought that our common experiences of prejudice, rejection, difficult childhoods, and other, more complex inequalities are all factors.

So what does the evidence say? Here are a few key stats.

Depression

According to Mind, around 11% of people in the England experience depression, or a mixture of anxiety and depression. For LGBTQ+ people, the figures are much higher.

A Stonewall report from 2012 found that:

  • 22% of gay and bisexual men experience moderate to severe depression
  • 79% of lesbian and bisexual women felt sad, miserable, or depressed in that year

For trans people rates are even higher according to CliniQ and Gires:

  • Over 80% of trans people experience depression.

Self-harm

It’s hard to know exactly how many people in the UK self-harm: some estimates put it as low as 0.4%, others as high as 6%. Regardless of the actual figure, in LGBTQ+ people the rates are much higher.

According to the same Stonewall report in 2012:

  • 20% of lesbian and bisexual women deliberately harmed themselves in that year
  • 7% of gay and bisexual men deliberately harmed themselves
  • These figures increase when isolating bisexual people only (29% women, 11% men)

In the same year, a Gires study found high rates of self-harm among trans people:

  • 53% of trans people had self-harmed, with 11% still self-harming
  • Another recent study suggests that over 80% of young trans people have harmed themselves.

Suicide

Knowing exactly how many LGBT people end their lives each year isn’t possible, as sexual orientation isn’t recorded by hospitals in the same way as gender or age. Studies indicate, however, that suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts are higher for LGBT people than the national average.

The Stonewall 2012 study also found that:

  • 3% of gay men attempted to take their life in that year, with half of gay and bisexual men saying that, at some point, life had not felt worth living.
  • 5% of lesbians and bisexual women attempted to take their life.

For trans people these rates are, once again, much higher, especially among young people.

The Stonewall School Report last year found that:

  • 45% of young trans people have attempted suicide.

More broadly, according to CliniQ

  • 50% of trans people in general have considered or attempted suicide.

Drugs and Alcohol

Both drugs and alcohol impact our mental health, but vice versa, substance abuse is also often a symptom of poor mental health, especially among LGBTQ+ people.

Various studies have come to the same conclusion: on average, we're big drinkers and take more drugs than the general population.

  • One study found that drug use among LGB people is seven times higher than the rest of the population. (various drugs, including cannabis, ecstasy, and cocaine).
  • LGBTQ+ people are far more likely to binge drink, and importnatly, far more likely to binge drink. One study found that 29% of gay and bisexual women and 34% of gay and bisexual men binged in the last week, compared to 15% and 19% of heterosexual women and men respectively.
  • LGBTQ+ people are also more likely to continue binge drinking later into life.

Round-up


These statistics are just a few examples of the mental health problems faced by LGBT+ people. We are also more likely to experience anxiety, eating disorders, stress and other long-term mental health challenges.

This situation is made worse by the our higher-than-average chance of negative experiences in healthcare compared to the rest of the population.

If you’re affected by any of the issues in the above article, and need support, then there are places you can go. See below for a list of organisations that can help.


What Next?

If you are affected by any of the issues in this article, why not check out some more of our fact sheets? Click below for more info on