QTBIPOC mental health and wellbeing

Editor’s Note: This article discusses mental health and other sensitive content. If you or someone you know is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 and 1-800-273-8255.

Balanced You recognizes the importance of raising awareness and sharing resources available to meet the unique needs of Queer and Transgender Black Indigenous People of Color (QTBIPOC). QTBIPOC represents a combination of various identities that intersect and influence a person’s mental health experiences. Individuals who identify as QTBIPOC face unique challenges and disparities in mental health care due to the intersections of their identities as well as historic and current systemic injustice. There are also a multitude of diverse experiences and perspectives within the QTBIPOC community. Individual experiences vary within such a broad community that includes a wide range of intersecting identities. Balanced You recognizes that one’s background and identities can present unique experiences and specific barriers.

 QTBIPOC individuals often face discrimination, stigma, and microaggressions related to both their racial and LGBTQ+ identities. Further, QTBIPOC individuals with disabilities face another layer of barriers due to the intersection of their multiple identities of race, LGBTQ+, and disability. These intersecting forms of discrimination, compounded challenges, and often isolation due to a lack of access to community can have a significant impact on mental health. This is influenced by factors such as discrimination and racism in health care, and limited access to culturally responsive mental health care. These barriers to treatment and inequitable health care are compounded by distrust because of decades of harm from the medical community and other systemic injustices. Significant gaps in health insurance coverage, economic injustice, discrimination, bias, stigma and violence all interact to worsen the mental health crisis facing the QTBIPOC community today, and often do so at levels higher than the LGBTQ+ community broadly. 

LGBTQ+ high schoolers of color are more likely to attempt suicide (27%) compared to LGBTQ+ high schoolers (22%) and non-LGBTQ+ high schoolers (5%) in the United States. Additionally, a majority (54%) of QTBIPOC adults are facing poor mental health today. Despite high rates of poor mental health, only 29% of QTBIPOC individuals say they have been diagnosed with a depressive order from a provider, compared to 39% of the LGBTQ+ adults broadly.

These disparities showcase the necessity for equitable health care where the QTBIPOC community feels safe is essential. It involves seeking out mental health professionals who are knowledgeable about unique needs and who create safe and affirming spaces. There is an online tool that you can research and find healthcare facilities that are evaluated in the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). The HEI is a national LGBTQ+ benchmarking tool that evaluates healthcare facilities’ policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community, though it does not look at race within the LGBTQ+ community. Tools like this can help when looking for equitable and inclusive healthcare and is a step in the right direction.

King County’s Balanced You recognizes that when it comes to health, one size never fits all. QTBIPOC mental health is an important aspect of mental health care and the unique challenges and lived experiences of multiple identities. This calls for equitable and inclusive mental health services, as well as increased awareness and advocacy to address disparities and promote mental wellbeing in the QTBIPOC community. As family, friends, and allies, we can all support QTBIPOC mental health by learning and sharing information on the resources available in our community and working to dismantle the barriers and stigma faced by QTBIPOC individuals.

King County offers the following guides and resources to make it easier to find the right tools for you:

Below are additional resources from the Human Rights Campaign.

LGBTQ+ Crisis/Suicide Prevention Hotlines

Transgender Community

  • Trans Lifeline – 877-565-8860

LGBTQ+ Youth

  • LGBT National Youth Talkline – 1-800-246-7743
  • TrevorLifeline – 1-866-488-7386
  • TrevorText – Text START to 678-678
  • The Steve Fund Crisis Textline* – Text STEVE to 741741

LGBTQ+ Adults

  • Lifeline* – 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line* – Text HOME to 741741

All Ages

  • LGBT National Hotline – 1-888-843-4564

Mental Health and Wellness Organizations and Resources

For questions related to your King County employee resources, please reach out to BalancedYou@KingCounty.gov.

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