Trans mental health: Addressing suicide and finding support


In 2023, UK charity Mind shared that there were more than 17,000 reports of serious mental health-related incidents in 12 months. This, alongside other data, suggests that we are currently in a mental health crisis in the UK.

Whilst any individual can experience mental ill-health at any point during their lives, some demographics may be more at risk of struggling with their mental health. One of these groups is the trans community. Research into trans mental health and emotional well-being indicates that members of the trans community may be more likely to experience intense distress than other demographics. But what are the factors affecting trans mental health? How can this be addressed, and what steps can be made to create more affirming, inclusive environments?

The trans mental health crisis


What is a mental health crisis?

Mind defines a mental health crisis as ‘when you feel at a breaking point, and you need urgent help.’ On an individual level, this can take many forms, such as:

  • An increased risk of harming yourself
  • An increased risk of harming others 
  • Intense anxiety 
  • Frequent panic attacks 
  • Flashbacks 
  • Nightmares and disturbed sleep 
  • Thinking (or acting on) self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Hearing voices or seeing things 
  • Struggling to communicate 
  • Feeling very low or depressed 
  • Not being able to focus 

A mental health crisis can occur for many reasons – you may be struggling with your mental health, dealing with a bereavement, work-related pressure, financial issues or personal conflict. However, there are specific demographics that research has shown may be more likely to experience intense emotional difficulty and mental health crises – one of these groups being the LGBTQIA+ community.  

Whilst many members of the LGBTQIA+ community may face mental health difficulties,  2024 research has indicated that transgender people in England are much more likely to deal with a mental health condition than cisgender individuals – and, therefore, are at a much greater risk of a mental health crisis. 

Mental health issues in the trans community 

In the summary of their study, the 2024 research team stated that:

‘Transgender, non-binary and gender diverse people face discrimination and barriers to accessing health care. Existing evidence suggests higher rates of mental health conditions among these groups compared with binary and cisgender groups.’

The research team found ‘wide gender-related inequalities in the probability of self-reporting a mental health condition,’ with non-binary, transgender or individuals with a non-disclosed gender identity as most at risk. 

The data indicates that members of the transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse populations are more likely to deal with depression, anxiety (including social anxiety) and suicidal ideation. But why is this the case?

The impact of discrimination 

Social Impacts

Individuals in the trans community are likely to experience what is known as ‘minority distress.’ Minority distress is linked to the ‘structural invalidation’ of those with non-heteronormative identities. This type of stress can be felt by a variety of demographics, such as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, disabled individuals and people of colour. Simply put, this type of distress occurs as ‘a result of a hostile or stressful social environment.’ This typically occurs due to prejudice or discrimination in the wider community.

Exposure to this type of environment and social attitude can lead to a process of internalisation. This can lead to an unconscious adoption of these negative social ideals, which can lead members of the trans and gender-diverse communities to develop a complicated relationship with their identity. This can lead to feelings of self-hatred or self-loathing, even when presenting as accepting and loving to friends and peers in the same community. 

Medical impacts 

Research also indicates that access ‘to timely and appropriate treatment’ can be limited amongst members of the trans community. This is potentially due to lengthy waiting lists for gender-affirming treatment and the risk of prejudice or lack of knowledge among health professionals. This can lead to a concern in accessing support – and, therefore, a worsening of mental health. Members of the trans community may, therefore, be more likely to go without treatment for mental health conditions, leading to long-term self-management. This can be exacerbated by concerns around being ‘stereotyped, pathologised or discriminated against’ by medical professionals. 

Due to feelings of gender dysphoria, low mood, overwhelm, potential isolation and the impact of stigma, trans individuals may find themselves experiencing the following conditions with reduced support:

When left untreated, these conditions can lead to mental health crises or the development of secondary conditions such as substance addictions. When dealing with a dual diagnosis, individuals are even more at risk of becoming dangerously unwell with their mental health. This makes discrimination not only a social issue but a palpable risk to mental health.

The importance of affirmation 

Gender dysphoria (defined as an ‘incongruence between experienced/ expressed gender and the one assigned at birth’) can become a genuine threat to well-being. In order for this to not become overwhelming, members of the trans community need access to inclusive and affirming environments. This can increase well-being by:

  • Showing social support
  • Reducing isolation 
  • Indicating acceptance 
  • Reduces suicide rates
  • Increases self-esteem 
  • Reduces risk of transmisogyny and violence against trans individuals 

Knowledge and affirmation (on a social as well as an individual level) can be a very powerful kind of harm reduction for members of the trans community struggling with their mental health. But if you or someone you know is struggling today, what should you do?

How to find support

If you are a trans, non-binary or gender-diverse individual seeking support for your mental health, then it is very important to know that you deserve help just like anyone else. If you feel you are in crisis, you can:

  • Contact your primary care provider 
  • Contact a local drug and alcohol service
  • Go to A&E or support
  • Search for crisis services in your area
  • Call Samaritans on 116 123
  • Call NHS 111
  • Message ‘SHOUT’ to 85258
  • Call Switchboard (LGBTQIA+ Support line) on 0800 0119 100
  • Call LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30 
  • Seek resources from TransUnite

or contact UKAT for more information and help regarding your mental health.

If you are providing support for a loved one, you can share these resources. You can also assist by:

  • Listening to your loved one 
  • Attending appointments with them 
  • Learning more about the trans community and experience 
  • Using gender-affirming language 
  • Being sensitive and supportive 
  • Not making assumptions about the trans experience 
  • Being willing to challenge stereotypes and learn 
  • Being an ally and advocate for your loved one (and the wider community)
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