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Treating LGBTQI+ Mental Health

By Sam White, 05/28/2021 - 12:14

Treating LGBTQI+ Mental Health

Mental health treatment of the LGTBQI+ community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersexed) has become a necessary domain of mental health and human service education since the APA declassified homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973. The LGBTQI+ community has grown significantly since then, making treatment strategies an integral facet of modern psychology and human service education. 

As of 2021:

  • Over 18 million American adults identify as part of the LGBTQI+ community. 
  • 5.4% of the US population identify as Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual.
  • .6% identify as Transgender. 
  • 9% of Millennials (1981-1996) identify as LGBT
  • 1 in 6 (16%) of Generation Z adults (1997-2002) identify as LGBT (Source)

Despite the national push for acceptance and movements for legal equality, the people representing the LGBTQI+ community continue to face a myriad of challenges in their daily lives that negatively affect their mental health. Significant evidence shows a heightened risk for mental health conditions in LGBTQI people. In fact, a report from SAMHSA found 39% LGBTQI+ citizens struggle with a mental illness.  Many will experience discrimination, bullying, prejudice, harassment, and rejection based on their sexuality or gender identity. These factors significantly impact mental health conditions and can have lasting consequences on mood and quality of life. 

To better empathize, human service practitioners must understand the current mental health climate of the LGBTQI+ community. The section below lists important facts and figures to know (sourced from the National Alliance on Mental Illness):

Mood Disorders

“Homosexual adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition.” (Source)

“Transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals to experience a mental health condition.” (Source)

Substance Abuse

“Homosexual adults are nearly twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a substance use disorder.” (SAMHSA)

“Transgender individuals are almost four times as likely as cisgender individuals to experience a substance use disorder.” (SAMHSA)


“High school students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are more than four times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to their heterosexual peers.” (Source)

“40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide in their lifetime, compared to less than 5% of the general U.S. population.” (Source)


“LGB youth are more than twice as likely to report experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness than their heterosexual peers.”

“A 2019 school climate survey showed that 86% of LGBTQ youth reported being harassed or assaulted at school, which can significantly impact their mental health.” (Survey)

“Transgender youth face further disparities as they are twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms, seriously consider suicide, and attempt suicide compared to cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and questioning youth”

The experience of gender and sexual orientation minorities closely relates to mental wellbeing. To provide optimized treatment, mental health practitioners need contemporary education. The ability to empathize with LGBTQI+ individuals plays a significant role in mental health treatment. Experts stress the importance of education on strategies to enhance mental health treatment for LGBT+ patients in the future. Understanding the subtle but significant nuances can lead to better outcomes from treatment and long-term recovery.

J&K Seminars proudly offers two home study CE programs to educate mental health providers and address the challenges of modern LGBTQI+ individuals:

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Practical and Ethical Considerations in Treating LGBT Clients

  • Presented By Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev, LCSW-R

  • 10.25 CE Hours Available
    • 3.00 CE Hours Ethics

Arlene Istar Lev describes sexual orientation and gender identity expression and treatment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) clients within a developmental and systemic perspective. This program includes in-depth discussion of ethical considerations in treating LGBT clients including issues of transference and countertransference, boundaries, informed consent, confidentiality, advocacy and bias in public policy.

Disks 1-4 — Focus on understanding definitions and identity integration, and the role of discrimination in psychological development for LGBT people. Arlene also examines barriers to successful and ethical treatment, including the overlap of mental health and substance abuse problems within LGBT families and communities.

Disks 5-8 — Focus on the specific concerns for transgender, transsexual, and gender non-conforming clients and their families. Arlene discusses the role of the psychotherapist in the evaluation of medical treatment, evolving Standards of Care, and issues in treating children and youth.

Treating LGBTQ Clients: Addressing Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Diversity

  • Presented By Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev, LCSW-R

  • 11.25 CE Hours Available

Arlene Istar Lev presents an in-depth overview of the therapeutic issues impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families. She outlines definitions and language within the context of cultural communities, the process of identity development, and the role of discrimination and bias in the psychological experience of LGBTQ people.

She focuses on gay men and lesbians as individuals and couples. This includes discussing issues involving youth who are first coming out, couple development, and family-building. Additionally, she describes specific concerns of transgender and gender non-conforming clients and their families.

Arlene also discusses the role of psychotherapists in evaluating transgender clients for medical treatment, couple and family issues when a spouse comes out, and issues in treating gender-nonconforming children and youth., and a review of the new DSM-5 and Standards of Care developed by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

NAMI (https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/LGBTQI)
The Trevor Project (https://www.thetrevorproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/The-Trevor-P...)
Mental Health America (https://www.mhanational.org/issues/lgbtq-communities-and-mental-health)