Mental Health and the LGBTQ Community

In Canada, the LGBTQI2S+ population numbers over one million as of 2021, making up 4% of the total population. Approximately one third of that 4% is under the age of 25, likely signifying increasing social acceptance which allows for a greater number of questioning teens to explore their true selves. While the situation has improved for many members of the LGBTQI2S+ (also commonly referred to as lgbt or lgbtq) community living in Canada, and specifically in Vancouver, we still face many social barriers throughout the course of our lives.

If our family and friends embrace us fully, there still remain places we don’t feel safe living, workplaces where we don’t talk about our spouses, or organizations that refuse us entry. We don’t see ourselves represented in entertainment or commercials that aren’t specifically targeted at us, and we were generally more economically vulnerable during the height of the pandemic.

If we are not lucky enough to have the support of our friends and family, we can face incomprehension or hostility at home or in our communities. Our physical safety may be threatened, and even where it is not, the reduced support and increased stigma frequently mean higher rates of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, increased chance of illness and stress-related conditions, and in the worst circumstances, homelessness or suicide.

Despite these statistics, members of our community are often reluctant to seek out professional help. Part of this is the knowledge that, in the past, aspects of our innermost selves were deemed perversions by the medical and psychological fields. Even today, many of us receive delayed or poorer quality health care, and somehow, incredibly, conversion therapy is still present in the political discourse in Canada. Part of it may be that many of us exist in communities where mental health is not spoken of, and seeking help would be considered shameful. Or it may simply be that whenever we meet a new person, there is always a question in the back of our minds, “Can I safely be fully myself with this person?”

No matter what concern you bring to counselling, whether it relates to your sexuality, gender, or otherwise, trust is an essential component of what makes therapy work. Trust doesn’t come automatically, it’s something that needs to be built within every relationship, but it can come a little bit easier when you know that the person you are seeking help from in your moment of vulnerability can accept you fully for who you are because they have lived experiences with parallels to your own. Your clinical counsellor doesn’t have to have similar life experiences to understand you and offer quality care, but it can definitely help offer a sense of safety going into it.

My name is Vanessa Coady, RCC, and I’ll be marrying my future wife next summer. As a registered clinical counsellor, I’m passionate about working with members of my community on whatever topic is troubling you, from anxiety and depression, to relationship and parenting issues. While I work most commonly with techniques from CBT, Mindfulness, and experiential modalities, in our work, your goals guide our path, and your values and needs inform how we approach those goals and how we know the work is done. Let’s find your better future together.