Skip to Main Content
Interact for Health Logo

LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week: Promoting Good Mental Health for All

Mar 19, 2024

If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, text or call 988.  

Good mental health is a platform for a full, healthy, and productive life. Many factors influence a person’s mental health, including access to mental health care. For folks in our region who are LGBTQ+, their identity can make these services harder to access. That’s why this week, LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week, Interact for Health is reflecting on how these obstacles present for different groups, like youth, Black communities, and others who are part of our LGBTQ+ community and what resources exist to help promote good mental health.  

Four-and-a-half percent of the United States’ population identifies as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Thirty-nine percent of that population (or 5.8 million people) reported mental illness over the last year. As Mental Health America puts it, that population is greater than that of the state of Kentucky. 

Research done by Interact for Health, in partnership with Cohear, revealed more about the state of mental health for LGBTQ+ people in our local community. Of the people surveyed who identify as LGBTQ+ in the Greater Cincinnati area, 42 percent reported frequent mental distress, defined as 14 or more mentally unhealthy days in the past month. This compares to 17 percent of people overall in the region who reported frequent mental distress.  

Obstacles to good mental health 

This evidence indicates that people in the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to face mental health issues. Part of the reason for higher incidence of mental health issues is that members of the LGBTQ+ community face negative stereotypes that can act as obstacles to good mental and physical health.  
Lack of acceptance from family members can jeopardize housing stability, especially for youth. Discrimination and insufficient protections can lead to employment threats, which can result in financial instability. Even health professionals—physical and mental—may have personal biases that affect their professional relationships with patients. Poor past experiences may lead many LGBTQ+-identifying folks to feel reluctant about sharing issues with providers. 
It's important to remember that people who identify as LGBTQ+ may also be Black, Hispanic, non-Christian, or disabled. Having multiple associations with these identities can further complicate people’s experience with the health system. 

Policies and systems can and should promote good mental health, but unfortunately, they often provide barriers for some communities. In our region and across the country, policies are being considered that not only negatively impact access to gender-affirming care, but also take a toll on mental health, particularly for transgender youth. State bills that restrict or criminalize transgender healthcare work against recommendations from leading health authorities and medical associations. A 2023 report from the Trevor Project found that one in three LGBTQ+ young people said their mental health was poor most of the time or always due to anti-LGBTQ+ policies and legislation.  

We all deserve support that fits our needs 

Everyone should have the opportunity to find a professional who can approach conversations with empathy for the person’s experience. Health professionals should have the skills necessary to support a person in navigating specific challenges, such as discrimination or racism. Expanding culturally relevant care will help to reduce stigma. 
Because some communities don’t have access to health care services that fit their needs, Interact for Health works to ensure that people can find the right support at the right time. Improving access to quality, tailored mental health care for the LGBTQ+ community can help ensure that mental health challenges are adequately addressed.  
Interact for Health has made it a priority to empower and work with youth to strengthen systems and support for young people in schools and communities. Approaching this issue from multiple angles—such as working with partners to increase representation of people who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community in the mental health field, funding efforts to promote belonging for LGBTQ+ youth in schools and investing in mental health prevention and promotion efforts across the board—can make a real difference.  
It is our hope that these kinds of efforts can support a thriving and healthy LGBTQ+ community in our region where everyone can access the care they need to live their healthiest life.   

Resources for LGBTQ+ Mental Health 

Return to What's New