Part 3: Barriers to Mental Health Care for members of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities

by QMUNITY Staff

Trigger Warning: The theme and content of this webpage includes references to mental health, depression and suicide.

What are Barriers to Mental Health Care?

Barriers to mental health care are any obstacles, challenges, or structures in place that make it difficult, or impossible, for somebody to access any type of mental health care. 

Some of the main barriers to mental health care that 2SLGBTQIA+ communities experience are:

  1. Financial limitations to access and pay for care. 
  2. Inability to access queer, trans, and Two-Spirit component care.
  3. Mental health care being offered in only a limited western colonial model.

Our public health system covers only the basics of medical care. There is also the possibility of discrimination to access since not all care providers are competent, and we rarely have a way to know (besides word of mouth in our community) who is safe to see. We can access specialized care with competency, but often it costs more. There are often long wait times for service producers who are queer competent, which is another barrier in our way. A lot of folks in our community face poverty, disability, food insecurity, housing challenges, and other systemic forms of discrimination. Without the financial resources, folks often have to forgo getting the mental health care that they need. 

The model of healthcare in BC is constructed with a colonial framework. That is to say, the way we conceptualize, and provide mental health care is through an individualized treatment system focusing often only on psychiatry and one-on-one therapy. These models of mental health treatment have a history and roots in white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia and colonialism. Not to say these mental health services cannot be effective, but that they’re limited and do not meet the needs of everyone. A lot of BIPOC folk have been historically mistreated by these medical systems and therefore have no trust, or desire to access mental health care under the current structure. There is a lack of cultural-specific mental health care that does not follow this colonial western model of healthcare. There are virtually no dedicated mental health services for members of the Two-Spirit community. The barriers to mental health care are vast, and different for different members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

What Needs to Happen?

Mental health service should be a basic form of human rights in our public health care system. We know that mental health is intertwined with our physical and spiritual wellness. Mental health care also needs to be decolonized, allowing for different types of care to be included. We need more holistic wellness care to be covered by the public system: naturopaths, counsellors, social workers, physiotherapists, vision care, dental care, and elders, etc. We need more professionals to be able to refer to specialists. Imagine if a social worker or a counsellor could refer to specialists for specific care based on the belief that the person knows what they need! Eliminating financial barriers to mental health care can be done by publicly funding things like counseling and pharmacare, visit This would go a long way in supporting 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and their mental health. 

Ways To Navigate Barriers

QMUNITY can provide assistance with systems navigation and attempts at directing people to safer options, but it’s not perfect and we don’t know everything and everyone. We want to develop a way to make our directory public and give the community the opportunity to vet services, adding community voices to referrals. You can always reach out to QMUNITY by calling or emailing the Q Desk, which provides information and referrals to queer competent services. 

Community care is what we all turn to when we feel overrun by barriers in the system. We share both hope and challenges as we navigate these systems of care together.

For more information on mental health please visit: 
For information on QMUNITY Programs & Services please visit:

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