Researching for LGBTQ Health

Pathways to Effective Depression Treatment

Pathways is one of several research projects led by the Re:searching for LGBTQ2S+ Health team designed to build our understanding of barriers to accessing culturally competent mental health care among gender and sexual minorities in Ontario.

Pathways is a community-based research project that asked women and/or trans people of all sexual orientations about their experiences with depression and seeking mental health services (see Note 1). One of our goals was to understand the intersections of racial/ethnic identities and socioeconomic status with LGBTQ2S+ identities, particularly in relation to mental health service experiences.

This study is funded for two years by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). Partners in the study include Rainbow Health Ontario, Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre, York University, and the University of Toronto. An advisory committee representing people with lived experiences of mental health issues and/or use of mental health services and mental health service providers with expertise in working with LGBTQ2S+ people provides guidance to this study.

Pathways is a mixed-methods study. This means we collected both qualitative and quantitative data to answer our research questions. We conducted an online quantitative questionnaire asking people about their experiences of depression and poor mental health, whether they sought help, and how helpful they found any services they received. We analyzed data from over 700 people in Ontario to look at intersections of gender identity, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status with experiences of mental health and seeking help.

Building upon the information, we connected with approximately 30 respondents from different regions of Ontario and from a diverse background of identities and experiences to conduct face-to-face interviews. Among other things, we asked participants, ‘what would you say if you had five minutes to spend with someone who could really make changes to the mental health system in Ontario?’ This information is also currently being analyzed by our team.

The Pathways team has developed a community report and fact sheets to share what we have learned with LGBTQ2S+ communities, health and social service providers, policy and decision-makers, and researchers. We hope that lessons from our participants and research will be able to contribute to the mental health and addiction reform processes currently taking place in the province, so that all Ontarians have access to quality, culturally competent health care.


  • Co-Principal Investigators: Dr. Lori Ross, Dr. Leah Steele and Punam Khosla
  • Co-Investigators: Dr. Andrea Daley, Loralee Gillis, Dr. Charmaine C. Williams and Deone Curling

Learn More:

1-416-535-8501 ext. 77383


Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Operating Grant: Making progress in women’s mental health in the Province of Ontario

Project Outcomes:

Community Resources:



1. For purposes of inclusion in the Pathways study we are including women and trans people who identify as any sexual orientation. This can include individuals who self identify as lesbians (cissexual and trans women), bisexual women (cissexual and trans women), queer women (cissexual and trans women), heterosexual trans women, heterosexual cissexual women, heterosexual trans men, gay, bisexual or queer trans men, genderqueer people, people with trans experience, people with any other trans or genderqueer identities. Cissexual = non-trans people