Half of LGBTQ+ employees have suffered from depression at some point in their lives, report finds

Half of LGBTQ+ employees have suffered from depression at some point in their lives, report finds

Nearly half (45.3 percent) of LGBTQ+ workers in the UK have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives, a new report from myGwork has found.

The LGBTQ+ Mental Health in the Workplace 2024 A survey of 1,038 LGBTQ+ employees from 65 countries found that this figure rose to three in five (60 percent) among trans and non-binary respondents.

A further quarter (25 per cent) of UK-based LGBTQ+ participants experienced severe psychological distress, with 26.9 per cent currently reporting symptoms of non-specific severe psychological distress – which the report says indicates they are likely to have a diagnosable mental health condition “severe enough to cause functional impairment and necessitate treatment”.

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In addition, more than a quarter of respondents indicated that their current mental health was poor or very poor (22.4 percent and 4 percent, respectively).

Only 7 percent answered ‘very good’, 36.8 percent said ‘good’ and 30.3 percent said ‘sufficient’.

Suki Sandhu, CEO and founder of diversity and inclusion consultancy INvolve, said People management that these findings were a “stark reminder” that LGBTQ+ employees still face significant barriers to safety, wellbeing and success in business, and highlighted the implications of non-inclusive workplace cultures.

“It’s simply not good enough that almost half of LGBTQ+ professionals have experienced depression and organisations must prioritise supporting their wellbeing,” he said.

“Companies must take a two-pronged approach to better support their LGBTQ+ employees. First, companies must routinely invest in LGBTQ+ inclusion to ensure their work environment is conducive to the safety, well-being and success of their LGBTQ+ employees.

“Second, things like implementing talent development programs, trainings and workshops to better equip allies with the knowledge to support their LGBTQ+ colleagues, and inclusive leadership workshops for senior leaders, as well as HR reviews to refine and revise policies and processes to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive.”

Ian Howley, chief executive of charity LGBT Hero, said his organisation was acutely aware of high levels of depression and anxiety among LGBTQ+ people in work environments, which can be due to a number of factors. “Many LGBTQ+ people face discrimination and negative attitudes, both in their personal lives and at work. This can lead to feelings of rejection and isolation, which has a significant impact on their wellbeing,” he said.

“Additionally, the fear of being judged or treated unfairly, and the difficulty in accessing appropriate healthcare, particularly for trans and non-binary people, adds to the stress. Trans people can struggle to find work due to social attitudes and often remain in toxic environments due to the fear of being unemployed for long periods of time,” Howley explained, stressing the importance of employers being aware of the challenges LGBTQ+ people faced.

The research also found that three quarters (60.4 percent) of LGBTQ+ professionals in the UK received no mental health training or support in their current workplace, and just under half (48.6 percent) worked for an organisation with an LGBTQ+ staff network.

According to the report, this “underscores the urgent need for workplace policies and programs that promote the mental health and well-being of all workers.”

Howley noted that employers can create a supportive environment for LGBTQ+ employees by implementing inclusive policies that “explicitly protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” They can also offer regular LGBTQ+ training to foster a more accepting workplace culture.

However, some figures painted a more positive picture: the majority (76.8 percent) of participants believed they could be ‘completely’ or ‘to some extent’ themselves in the workplace (40 and 36.8 percent respectively).

This is in stark contrast to an earlier study by Accenture, which found that only 31 percent of LGBTQ+ employees were fully open about their sexual and/or gender identity at work, and to a study by women’s magazine DIVA and Kantar, which found that lesbian, bisexual and transgender people did not feel comfortable being themselves at work.

Browse CIPD resources on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender reassignment