NEW YORK, N.Y. — Ahead of Pride Day 2019, announced that it has launched the first online peer-based support community dedicated to mental illness and substance use conditions in the LGBTQ community. ForLikeMinds empowers members to connect and communicate one-on-one and in groups to support, inform and inspire each other’s recovery from mental illness and substance use, organizers said. “Recovery is not a cure, but living a full and meaningful life with mental illness.”

ForLikeMinds was inspired by the recovery journey of its founder Katherine Ponte, who was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder over 15 years ago. It also reflects the experiences of her spouse and main support. ForLikeMinds uses peer-based support, an evidence-based approach, to help people affected by mental illness and substance use overcome stigma and pursue recovery. ForLikeMinds is one of the only dedicated mental health platform tailored to the needs of both members living with a condition and their supporters. It allows people to anonymously connect one-on-one and in groups and create groups. ForLikeMinds offers this service for free to users who sign up at its website.

Greater awareness of mental health and substance use issues in the LGBTQ community is of critical importance. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in the general population, one in five adults have a condition, but LGBTQ individuals are almost three times more likely to experience a mental health condition, particularly depression or generalized anxiety disorder. The LGBTQ community also reports higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse. An estimated 20-30 percent of LGBTQ individuals abuse substances, compared to about 9 percent of the general population, and 25 percent of LGBTQ individuals abuse alcohol, compared to 5-10 percent of the general population.

Disparities in the LGBTQ community stem from a variety of factors including social stigma, discrimination, prejudice, denial of civil and human rights, abuse, harassment, victimization, social exclusion and family rejection.

Thoughtful examination of these circumstances and issues especially given the severity of the situation requires more than just an “LGBTQ umbrella” approach. According to “The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding Report,” “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals experience unique health disparities. Although the acronym LGBT is used as an umbrella term, and the health needs of this community are often grouped together, each of these letters represents a distinct population with its own health concerns. Furthermore, among lesbians, gay men, bisexual men and women, and transgender people, there are subpopulations based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic location, age, and other factors.”

ForLikeMinds has considered this reality. “While ForLikeMinds allows the broader LGBTQ community to connect, we also allow people to connect based on specific gender identities and sexual orientations. For example, a bisexual person can connect with a bisexual person, a trans man can connect with a trans man, etc. This allows for highly relatable exchanges.”


Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.