Healthy New Jersey

New Jersey Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma

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Identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer, being transgender, questioning one’s sexual identity, or relating to other gender- and sexuality-related subpopulations (LGBTQ+) is not a mental illness. However, the prevalence of mental health challenges is higher in the LGBTQ+ community, compared to the overall population.

While LGBTQ+ individuals make up 4.5% of the U.S. population, 39% of this group reported having a mental illness in the past year and they are “at particular risk for experiencing shame, fear, discrimination, and adverse and traumatic events,” as shared by Mental Health America (MHA). Younger individuals in the LGBTQ+ community have an even higher likelihood of depression and anxiety. LGBTQ+ teens are six times more likely to be depressed than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. In addition, LGBTQ+ youth are more than twice as likely to feel suicidal and have more than quadruple the risk of attempting suicide, compared to heterosexual youth.

These statistics underscore the importance of the LGBTQ+ population having access to educational resources and support services that meet their unique needs and challenges. It is equally important for heterosexual individuals to understand LGBTQ+ individuals in order to serve them most effectively in healthcare and other businesses, as well as school and of course, within their families and social networks.

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