Mental Health for LGBTQ+

Today, the citizens of Northern Ireland take to the streets once more to demand equal civil marriage. We look at mental health issues in the LGBTQ+ community and some organisations who are here to help.

In March 2018, British Psychological Society Northern Ireland Branch Chair, Professor Nichola Rooney said in a statement:

“Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders. However, those subjected to exclusion, stigma and prejudice may well experience mental health issues as a result[1].

Research shows that individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health difficulties, which includes alcohol and substance misuse, depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]. An American study in 2016 has indicated that these mental health difficulties appear to emerge in early life for LGBTQ+ young people [7]. It is suggested that these higher rates of mental health difficulties are due to a wide range of factors, including homophobia, discrimination and isolation [8].

In 2013, the Rainbow Project explored the emotional health and well-being of the LGBTQ+ people in Northern Ireland. The results indicated that out of the tt LGBTQ+ individuals surveyed, 35.3% had reported self-harming, with women and transgender people reporting higher rates. 46.9% of people surveyed reported experiences of suicidal thoughts, 25.7% had reported attempting suicide, and 70.9% indicated they experienced depression [9]. Other research has shown that LGBTQ+ people in Northern Ireland are significantly more likely to misuse drugs (62%) compared to heterosexual people in Northern Ireland (22%), and over half of those surveyed (57%) reported drinking to a dangerous level compared to adults in England [10]. Not only does Northern Ireland have an obligation to extend equal civil marriage to same-sex couples so that they may have the same equal human rights, but they also have a moral obligation to make the LGBTQ+ community feel more included and accepted. Equal civil marriage would be a positive first step to improving the mental health of LGBTQ+ people within Northern Ireland, and that is something to get psyched about.

Below is a list of organisations which offer mental health advice, support and services, including helplines, for LGBTQ+ people.

Rainbow Project

The Rainbow Project is a health organisation that works to improve the physical, mental & emotional health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people in Northern Ireland.


akt supports young LGBT people between the ages of 16 and 25 years old. They can help with finding specialist LGBT mental health services.

Gendered Intelligence

The organisation works with the trans community, especially young people, and those who affect trans lives.


Imaan is a support group for LGBT Muslims, providing a safe space to share experiences, with fact sheets and links to relevant services.

LGBT Consortium

The consortium develops and supports LGBT groups and projects around the country. Use the site’s directory to find local mental health services.

London Friend

London Friend aims to improve the health and mental well-being of LGBT people in and around London.


Get information about mental health support for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or questioning.

Pink Therapy

Pink Therapy has an online directory of therapists who work with LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and quesoning), and gender- and sexual-diversity (GSD) clients.


Find LGBT mental health services near you using Stonewall’s “What’s in my area?” search box.


[1] BPS NI (2018, March, 16) NIBPS Statement- Conversion Therapy [Blog post]. Retrieved from

[2] Chakraborty, A., McManus, S., Brugha, T., Bebbington, P., & King, M. (2011). Mental health of the non-heterosexual population of England. Journal of Psychiatry, 198, 143–148

[3] King, K., Semlyen, J., Tai, S., Killaspy, H., Osborn, D., Popelyuk, D., & Nazareth, I. (2008). A systematic review of mental health disorder, suicide, and deliberate self-harm in lesbian, gay and bisexual people. BMC Psychiatry, 8, 70

[4] Marshal, M.P., Friedman, M.S., Stall, R., & Thompson, A.L. (2009). Individual trajectories of substance use in lesbian, gay and bisexual youth and heterosexual youth. Addiction, 104, 974–981

[5] Zietsch, B.P., Verweij, K.J.H., Heath, A.C., Madden, P.A.F., Martin, N.G., Nelson, E.C., & Lynskey, M.T. (2012). Do shared etiological factors contribute to the relationship between sexual orientation and depression? Psychological Medicine, 42(3), 521–532

[6] Liu, R., & Mustanski, B. (2012). Suicidal Ideation and Self-Harm in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 42(3), 221–228

[7] Shearer, A., Herres, J., Kodish, T., Squitieri, H., James, K., Russon, J., … & Diamond, G.S. (2016). Differences in Mental Health Symptoms Across Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Youth in Primary Care Settings. Journal of Adolescent Health, 59 (1), 1–6

[8] LGBT Foundation. (2015). Mental Health. Retrieved from health/ [Accessed 05/12/15]

[9] O’Hara, M. (2013). Through Our Minds: Exploring the Emotional Health and Wellbeing of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in Northern Ireland. The Rainbow Project. Retrieved from publications/through%20our%20minds.pdf [Accessed 30.05.2018]

[10] Rooney, E. (2012). All Partied Out? Substance Use in Northern Ireland’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community. The Rainbow Project. Retrieved from [Accessed 30.05.2018]

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