Conversations+ Mental Health in the LGBTQIA+ Community

Sasha  Hello and welcome to conversations+ a PFLAG Broomfield pride video series. My name is Sasha Davis, my pronouns are she her, and I’m the outreach coordinator for PFLAG Broomfield. I will be your host as we meet some members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community and learn some stuff along the way. Today we’re talking about mental health in the LGBTQIA+ community, what we’re facing and what resources there are for us. I was joined by members of Broomfield public health envision you and rise above Colorado for a conversation on the stats, the realities and the solutions. Come listen in.

Sasha  Good morning. And thank you all so much for joining me today to talk about health and mental health and wellness in the LGBTQIA+ community. We really appreciate you taking time out of your day to help us learn. So let’s get started. One of the things that our community faces often is a lack of health and mental health services that are geared towards our particular needs. Or even just accessing care because of biases from providers. Will you talk a little bit about the needs of the LGBTQIA plus community from a health perspective? Donaven?

Donaven  Absolutely. Hey, folks, my name is Donaven Smith, I use he/him pronouns. I currently serve as a Program Manager here at Envision:You. So when we talk about the needs of the queer community from a health perspective, first I want to talk about the stats, dive into those and then talk a little bit about the risk factors that lead to poor mental health outcomes, the problems that we see among providers and then touching on a bit of intersectionality. So when we look at the statistics of mental health among the queer community, we see that 18% of LGBTQ+ adults have a substance use disorder compared to 8% of the general population. That data comes from SAMHSA 2020. So it’s fairly recent 55% of LGBTQ plus Coloradans are diagnosed with depression and 50% with an anxiety disorder, as compared to 17.4 and 17.7, respectively, among the general population.

We know that queer youth in Colorado have higher rates of suicidal thinking and suicide attempts. With 40% of transgender youth experiencing suicidal thinking and 35% attempting suicide. These numbers are a lot larger than they should be, we want to see 0%. And what we see is this huge disparity among transgender youth when we talk about suicide, and then 41% of transgender coloradan adults consider suicide as compared to 6% of the general population. That data comes out of one Colorado Education Fund from 2019. So again, this data is fairly recent and relevant. And without intervention, these disparities continue to get worse over time. So we look at risk factors for the LGBTQ+ community.

When we’re talking about suicide and substance use mental health and mental illness, we see higher rates of homelessness and unemployment. Among the queer community, we know that when we look at adverse childhood experiences, aces, these are things like trauma and early life that contribute to mental health outcomes that are poor and less than ideal. We know that LGBTQ plus folks usually show four or more aces, whereas heterosexual folks or general population have one to four aces. And the more aces that someone carries, the more likely they are to experience those negative and discouraging mental health outcomes. And then we also know that the queer community and LGBTQ+ folks face things like religious trauma at a higher rate and trauma in general at a higher rate. I know that that was my story. So I can definitely speak to that.

And then second to last, we know that providers, there’s a lack of providers who understand the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community. One assessment found that there are a 95 LGBTQ+ friendly, whatever that means, providers in Colorado and only 35 of those have behavioral health providers, and with there being more than 200,000 LGBTQ plus Coloradans. I’m really curious how 35 behavioral health providers can serve 200,000 people. And the fact of the matter is they can’t. And even if there were enough behavioral health providers, we know that LGBTQ plus folks 60% of them, walk into a health care space and have a bad experience. That’s due to homophobia transphobia, feeling unsafe and they don’t want to return to a healthcare space, let alone a behavioral healthcare space. So we see this barrier care and just being LGBTQ Plus. And then lastly, when we talk about the mental health experiences of the queer community, it’s really important to name that folks who are multiple marginalized, who have identities outside of an LGBTQ+ identity, which is already so oppressed, such as race, ethnicity, class, ability and gender. When you intersect that with a queer identity, we actually see more damaging mental health outcomes, we see higher rates of suicide in homelessness, higher rates of substance use. So that’s the word community from a health perspective when we talk about mental health and substance use.

Sasha  Thank you so much, Donovan. So my next question is specifically regarding LGBTQ+ youth. So many of our youth face discrimination at home and at school, since these are risk factors for substance abuse. Hayden, could you tell us more about how substance abuse and addiction impacts LGBTQIA plus youth?

Hayden  Yes, absolutely. Hi, I’m Hayden I use they them pronouns. And I’m a Program Coordinator at Envision:You. So as Donovan mentioned, the mental health outcomes for LGBTQ+ youth are very stark and really upsetting. You know, higher rates of suicide, higher rates of self harm, anxiety, depression, the list goes on and on. So let me talk a little bit about the risk factors here. Like you mentioned, youth report that they are physically threatened at higher rates when they identify as LGBTQ. At 6% of LGBTQ youth said that recent politics have negatively impacted their well being transgender and non binary youth who have reported having their pronouns respected, however, but all are most people in their lives, attempted suicide at half the rate of those did not have their pronouns respected. So when we’re looking at these risk factors, we know that respect support around the LGBTQ plus identity leads to less substance use leads to less anxiety, less depression. And we know also that things like conversion therapy, homelessness, running away are also risk factors for the for substance use and abuse. Hopes

Sasha  Now I’m not muted! Thank you so much. So now that we’ve talked a little bit about the struggle, let’s talk about solutions. Tracy, and what kind of services are available locally in Broomfield, Tracy, and in the surrounding areas?

Tracy  Yeah, so I’m Tracy, I use she her pronouns. And I’m the Community Health Improvement Coordinator for Broomfield Public Health. Broomfield is a really small county, so when we talk about our resources, they typically cross over into surrounding areas like boulder and Westminster. We have two primary organizations that support mental health and substance use in the community. So community reach center, also called CRC and mental health partners, also called MHP. And there’s a lot of other private providers. So both CRC and MHP have offices that are in Broomfield and offer outpatient clinical services and telehealth appointments for anyone that needs help. In addition to that, both CRC and MHP have 24 seven behavioral health crisis centers or urgent cares that are offered. One is located in Boulder and one is located in Westminster, you can find the addresses and contact information posted on the slash MH resources.

And then in addition to crisis services, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the creation of a warm line. So the Colorado spirit program is run by MHP. In its original resource for anyone in need of additional support, that’s not necessarily considered a crisis line. So it allows you to leave a voicemail and clinical staff returns your call within a day. They can assist you with up to six counseling sessions at no cost or they can help you to coordinate scheduling a clinical appointment if you have difficulty finding a provider near you. Anyone that calls in that has non related or non COVID related needs can get connected to a Broomfield community health worker, and these are knowledgeable members of our community whose focus is to reduce stigma, service cultural liaisons, and really help navigating available resources for both behavioral and physical health along with housing, food and other benefits that someone might need.  

Broomfield is really lucky. We have a strong youth substance and mental health Prevention Coalition called Communities That Care and that actually runs right through the Broomfield public health department. And one of the most important components of that is the engagement with young people to be seen and heard and as experts in their life and to help guide community prevention efforts. They partner heavily with our local school districts and support school based therapists, both of which MHP and CRC have within the two main school districts which is boulder Valley. I’m swell, and in a few minutes, I’m going to turn it over to Ben, who’s going to talk about more of their efforts with rise above. But before that, I’m going to be turning it over to Anne with envision you I did want to mention two clinical organizations that are located in Broomfield that focus on this population. The first is called youth scene. This is a Broomfield LGBTQ plus support that offers clinical mental health counseling, gender affirming support and family counseling. And they additionally have a peer mentoring support network. They’re a great resource in our community, especially for youth and they serve their surrounding area. And then the second resource that’s a clinical support is called queer Asterix. And they’re a Colorado nonprofit organization that provides queer informed counseling services, educational trainings, community programs, and they have multiple locations the closest being boulder and then they have Longmont, Denver, and also Fort Collins. And so and I will turn it over to you

Anne  Thank you, My name is Anne Bennett, I use she/her pronouns, and I’m a Program Coordinator at Envision:You. And I just wanted to mention a couple, we’re going to provide a link at the end of this where we have tons of resources that we’ve compiled together that are free to access for anyone with the link. I just wanted to mention a couple. So for national general LGBTQ+ mental health resources, we have the Trevor Project, which provides support for LGBTQ youth under 25. It’s 24 hour phone line chatting texting services with countless counselors. They also offer peer to peer support through traverse base. And then you’ve seen as another one that’s great, dedicated supporting LGBTQ+  communities. And then we’ve got Sage national LGBTQ elder hotline. So it’s a talk line for LGBTQ+ elders, and they can connect with each other can create community, which is really amazing. And then Colorado based ones I’ll just list out three, we’ve got the trans lifeline. So it’s an all transgender operated hotline that offers direct emotional and financial support for transgender people in crisis. We’ve got one Colorado, which is a massive directory on mental health providers serving the LGBTQ+ community, and then the center on Colfax. And they are basically their mission is to engage, empower and enrich LGBTQ plus community of Colorado.

And then I’ll just mention a couple of other more specific ones. So for black mental health resources nationally, we have the national queer and trans therapists color of therapist of color network, basically, and access this directory at any time and access those. And then I also wanted to highlight in Colorado, we have Fortaleza familiar, which is dedicated to the wellness of indigenous and Latinx LGBTQ+ two spirit young people and their families in Colorado. And then we’ve also got White Bison, which is an American Indian, Alaskan Native nonprofit organization that offers sobriety, recovery, addiction prevention, wellness, sobriety, and learning resources for their community. And this is a resource that you can use, whether you’re native or not, they provide to both people. And then Ignacio our equal Alliance is also in Colorado as well. And they support and empower LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community members, and then their families in the southwest.

Sasha  Awesome. That sounds like we have quite a few resources available to us. We just need to be able to find them. I will be including a lot of these links on the people at PFLAG Broomfield website. I’ll be putting it in the comments. For every way that we post this video. Can you let me know what’s what’s the easiest way to get to all of these resources? Where can we find these resources? Tracy?

Tracy  Yeah, so all the phone numbers and websites and honestly a lot of the addresses and any information that you’re looking for is located and you can find it on for mental health resources. Or you can go to and you can access the resources link by clicking there. for LGBTQ+ resources. We do have some of the local and national information listed on our website that and just reviewed. All of these have their own great websites and you can get a lot of information for individuals. But Envision:You is really our expert as a mental and behavioral health organization for this population. So I’m going to turn it over to Donaven to share a little bit more.

Donaven  Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know about experts. But we do love this work. And we’re incredibly passionate about it. So y’all can check out our website at Also, you can follow us on Instagram, @envisionyouCO some other really great resources that we work with and that we encourage folks to check out include out bolder, queer asterik and again, I’ll name The Trevor Project because they do incredible work, incredible research, specifically around how we can support LGBTQ+ youth in crisis and just in general.

Sasha  Excellent. So we’re going to go to Ben now. What support can your organizations provide?

Ben  Yeah, thank you. My name is Ben. And I use he/him pronouns. And I am the youth engagement manager at Rise Above Colorado. And some of the supports that we are able to offer from from our team really fall into three different buckets. Prior primarily, the first one that I want to mention is our positive community norms campaign that we have going at the moment right now it’s called fill your world with good and it’s something that is accessible to all youth across the state. And it’s easily found on all of the social media platforms at rise above SEO or just using the hashtag I rise above. And this campaign focuses on ways that teens across the state are making positive choices and and impacts within their own lives and their own communities ways that they’re filling their own world with good. And we actually just ended a run a prize giveaways to youth that participated within the campaign. And we’ll be doing that again, at the beginning of July.

So any youth across the state that are that are interested in engaging with us in that space, can check that out on on social as well as our our website, I, where they can also find a series of other resources in including some information around substances just in general, and then ways that our teen Council have have identified ways that they can rise above just the stresses of life, there are some various pages at that website that that would be great to check out. The next thing that I want to mention is our sort of the core to the work that we do at rise above, which is our teen Action Council. And this is a council have about 25 youth from across the state that that represent the the diversity not just in the locations that they’re coming from, but also racial diversity, economic diversity, identity, diversity, etc. And this is a group of teams that are patent passionate about the work that we do, and about making a positive impact in their own communities as well as throughout the state. And they work in partnership with each other, as well as other folks that are on this, this call right right now, to make sure that that impact is is felt throughout the parts of of the state and within the communities that that may be needed the most.

And then the last thing that I want to mention is actually sort of a new opportunity. It’s called the teen community ambassadors, which is sort of the next ring out sort of beat between the campaign and the teen teen Action Council is this this group of youth that maybe don’t have the time to dedicate to the council in in full commitment but they they want to do things intentionally within their own community to make a positive impact and and if anyone’s interested in that they can can reach out to us through our our website or starship would be a good person to get in touch with as well as she can toss those those inquiries to me, as well. But it’s basically a self paced form of being able to make an impact in your your own community that doesn’t involve quite the time commitment that the teen Action Council does. So those are the main ways that that we are are engaging with youth across the state to help make that impact.

Sasha  Thank you so much, Ben. So we’re here, we’re talking. We’re sharing our resources outside of this for other organizations that aren’t here with us today who are wondering, how do we support one another? Hayden, do you want to start?

Hayden  Yes, absolutely. So I think one important thing to know is that we have this really, really good network of mental health resources, but they’re not always LGBTQ+ affirming or LGBTQ plus youth affirming. And so one thing that providers within organizations can do is continuing education. I know that you New offers a provider training program. And it has been vetted through the community. And it’s fantastic. In this way we can enhance resources, the resources that we just mentioned above, and make sure that everybody in our community is supported to the fullest extent possible.

Sasha  And if somebody is interested in that education, they just reach out to envision you, right?

Hayden  Absolutely. We have all the information on our website

Sasha  All right. So as we wrap up, um, can you tell me what is one thing that you would like our listeners to do tomorrow to support mental and behavioral health in our community?

Hayden  I’ll hop back in again. So at Envision:You I support a public awareness campaign called How to have the talk. And the goal of this public forum, this campaign is to encourage everybody to talk about mental health, their loved ones, we know that mental health does not get better if it gets shoved under the rug, and we ignore it. So I encourage everybody to go talk to their loved ones about mental health. If you need support, if you need resources around that, go to And there’s a dash in between each of those words, or you can just go to to find our How to have the talk landing page. There, you’ll have conversation starters, resources to direct a loved one to if they need more support. It’s a really great one stop shop for mental health resources. So yeah, go talk to your loved ones about mental health.

Sasha  I love that. I love that that’s the answer. Broomfield is actually been doing Let’s talk about it, and releasing a video series with people telling their stories and talking about stuff that they’re at risk regarding suicide, addiction, depression, it’s been really compelling. And I love that we’re kind of at this stage, not just within our own community, but within the broader community that we need to talk about these things, because that’s the only way that we can really fully combat it. So thank you for that.

All right, I think that is it. I want to thank you all again, so much for taking time out of your day to be here with us to share all of this information. If anybody listening is interested in anything we’ve talked about, you can shoot me an email, And I can point you in the right direction. And I will include all of these links and resources, in the comments and on our webpage. And thank you just thank you so much for being here. Have a great day, everybody.

General Mental Health Resources – National
Crisis Text Line
National Suicide Prevention Life
The NAMI Helpline

General Mental Health Resources – Colorado
Colorado Crisis Services
Colorado Mental Wellness Network

LGBTQ+ Mental Health Resources – National
The Trevor Project
SAGE National LGBTQ+ Elder Hotline

LGBTQ+ Mental Health Resources – Colorado
Trans Lifeline
One Colorado
The Center on Colfax

Black Mental Health Resources – National
National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
Black Men Heal
Sista Afya

Black Mental Health Resources – Colorado
The Center for African American Health
Providers of Color Directory
From the Heart Enterprises (Denver)

Latino/Latina Mental Health Resources – National
Latinx Therapy
Sana Mente
National Alliance for Hispanic Health

Latino/Latina Mental Health Resources – Colorado
Fortaleza Familiar
Servicios de la Raza
La Clínica Tepeyac

Indigenous Mental Health Sources – National
We R Native
StrongHearts Native Helpline

Indigenous Mental Health Sources – Colorado
Denver Indian Health and Family Services
White Bison
Ignacio Out and Equal Alliance

Asian-American and Pacific Islanders
Mental Health Resources – National
Asian Mental Health Project

Asian-American and Pacific Islanders
Mental Health Resources – Colorado
Asian Pacific Development Center

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