How To Support Workplace Mental Health For LGBTQIA+ Professionals

May 16,2022

Read Time 4 Minutes

It's always important to support the mental health of your employees, but not all employees have the same needs. LGBTQIA+ people have unique experiences that can negatively impact their mental health in the workplace and at home that their heterosexual or cisgender colleagues do not experience. As an employer, you can foster inclusion and strive for mental health equity among your employees with workplace mental health policies and benefits that make it easier for your employees to find the care and support they need. You can also improve retention rates, job performance, and productivity in the process.

Recognizing The Unique LGBTQIA+ Mental Health Risk Factors And Challenges


LGBTQIA+ people are more than twice as likely to experience a mental health condition than their heterosexual or cisgender peers and are at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts and behavior. For transgender adults, the numbers are even more dire — their likelihood of experiencing a mental health condition is quadruple.


Discrimination and harassment are two major risk factors impacting the mental health of LGBTQIA+ people. In a recent survey of LGBTQIA+ adults, 52% said that discrimination moderately or significantly affected their psychological well-being.


The workplace is no exception. More than one-third of LGBTQIA+ employees reported experiencing discrimination at work within the past year.


These risk factors highlight the importance of workplace mental health benefits and policies that respect and support your LGBTQIA+ employees’ needs.


Offering Inclusive, Solution-Oriented Benefits


Building a welcoming and inclusive workplace culture starts with non-discrimination policies that protect your employees regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Inclusive health coverage is an essential next step. These three workplace offerings can empower your employees to get the mental healthcare they need:


1. Behavioral health services coverage: Robust behavioral health benefits help your LGBTQIA+ employees protect their whole-person health. Along with higher susceptibility for mental health conditions, substance use and misuse rates are significantly higher among sexual minorities (people who don't identify as heterosexual). Coverage for substance use services and counseling supports your employees with access to the right care when they need it most. 


2. Virtual care benefits: The broad adoption of telehealth for counseling and virtual primary care alleviates major barriers to care access, including issues with transportation, childcare, or time off work. Additionally, LGBTQIA+ people have reported feeling more comfortable with virtual appointments, as they eliminate some concerns of discrimination and mistreatment people may face in person. Virtual care also opens more possibilities for your employees to connect with doctors or counselors with expertise in LGBTQIA+ mental health issues who may not practice nearby, which is particularly beneficial in rural and historically marginalized communities. Anthem's SydneySM Health app is one resource employees have to access virtual visits with a doctor or a licensed therapist from home or anywhere with privacy and an internet connection. 


3. Employee assistance program (EAP): An EAP can help employees balance the demands of daily work and life challenges with resources such as legal counseling, financial guidance, child care consultation, and 24/7 access to behavioral health professionals. Your EAP may also provide advice for managers and supervisors who need guidance supporting LGBTQIA+ employees undergoing or wishing to disclose a gender transition.


Encouraging LGBTQIA+ Employees To Use Their Benefits


Although the conversations around mental health have been changing for the better, the stigma surrounding mental health disorders persists.


Creating an inclusive employee culture that prioritizes workplace mental health can support your LGBTQIA+ employees to seek the help they need. Here are some discussions you should have with employees on a regular basis: 

  • Make sure employees understand all the benefits available to them. 
  • Share what services your company provides through your EAP and how to access their services. 
  • Review what mental health or substance use services are covered through the company's healthcare plans.

Your LGBTQIA+ employees face unique experiences that can affect their workplace mental health and performance. Providing solutions through your health plan or EAP can meet them with support and streamline access to care at all stages of their health.


Sydney Health is offered through an arrangement with Carelon Digital Platforms, a separate company offering mobile application services on behalf of your health plan ©2020-2022. The Virtual Primary Care experience is offered through an arrangement with Hydrogen Health.