One of the most pressing and important topics facing the LGBTQIA+ community today is mental health. Mental illness disproportionately affects those who identify as transgender, non-binary, or any other gender or sexual orientation not falling under the widely accepted heterosexual norm - this can lead to higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress in comparison to their heterosexual counterparts. Despite these facts, many in our community still face stigma and silence when it comes to needing help with their mental health due to fear of judgement around being part of a minority group. As an ally in support of all individuals within our diverse LGBTQIA+ community, I'm going to explore why taking care of our mental wellbeing is so vital –– especially now more than ever.
Understanding the link between LGBTQIA+ and Mental Health
With increased awareness and visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s become clear that this marginalized group experiences higher rates of mental health issues than their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts. Discrimination, bias, and social stigma are often to blame for elevated rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among this population. It’s important to recognize and address these disparities through accessible mental health services and advocacy efforts. Additionally, it’s important to promote acceptance and inclusivity in society, so that LGBTQIA+ individuals can live their lives authentically and without fear for their safety or discrimination. By understanding the link between LGBTQIA+ and mental health, we can work towards a more equitable and supportive world for all individuals.
Common mental health issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community
The LGBTQIA+ community faces several mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, interpersonal struggles and substance abuse. These issues often stem from the stigma and discrimination experienced by individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+. Many struggle with feelings of rejection, shame, and isolation, which can lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair.
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Unfortunately, traditional mental health services may not always be sensitive to the unique needs of LGBTQIA+ individuals, further complicating their experiences. It's crucial to understand the impact of stigma on mental health and to seek out safe, affirming spaces for support and understanding. By promoting awareness and opening up conversations about mental health within the LGBTQIA+ community, we can work towards creating a more inclusive and supportive environment.
How to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness
Mental illness can often go unnoticed or undetected, which can lead to serious consequences. Recognizing the signs and symptoms is crucial to ensuring proper treatment and support. In oneself, signs of mental illness can include changes in mood, behavior, and thought patterns. These changes can manifest as feelings of extreme sadness or worry, sudden changes in appetite or sleep patterns, or the inability to concentrate on tasks. In someone else, signs of mental illness may be more subtle and include withdrawal, increased irritability or anger, and changes in their level of activity or social interaction. It is important to be aware and observant of these signs and to seek professional help if necessary. Remember, mental illness is a real and treatable illness, and seeking help is a sign of strength.
LGBTQIA+ Resources are available for support, including hotlines and support groups
When facing a difficult situation, it's important to know that help is available. Whether you're dealing with a mental health challenge, substance abuse, or simply need someone to talk to, there are resources like individual therapy, support groups, and hotlines that can offer support and guidance. Finding a therapist (Like me Briana) that specializes in working with the LGBTQIA+ community is so important. We can hold a space where all persons are seen, recognized and supported in their identity journeys. With your therapist you can explore the issues you are facing that you may not feel safe talking about with family or friends
LGBTQ+ Crisis/Suicide Prevention Hotlines are often available 24/7 and provide an anonymous way to speak with a trained professional who can offer advice and support.
Here are a few to contact when you or someone you know is in crisis and need immediate support:
Trans Lifeline - 877-565-8860
LGBT National Youth Talkline - 1-800-246-7743
RehabSpot - 1-877-494-1401
Crisis Text Line - Text HOME to 741741
LGBT National Hotline - 1-888-843-4564
Joining a support group can also provide the opportunity to connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges, and provide a safe space to share experiences and receive emotional support. Whether you've never sought help before or are looking for additional resources, there are many options available that can make a difference in your life.
Remember that it's normal to experience these feelings and reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Practical tips for managing stress and anxiety, including self-care practices
Stress and anxiety can be overwhelming and affect every aspect of our lives. It's important to take care of ourselves in order to manage these feelings.
Some practical tips for managing stress and anxiety include setting boundaries, practicing mindfulness, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and talking to a trusted friend or therapist. Self-care practices such as taking a relaxing bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music can keep you grounded and balanced. Connecting to nature, breathing and meditating also are mindful practices that can bring you to be more in tune with yourself. With dedication and persistence, managing stress and anxiety can be absolutely possible!
Supporting and creating an inclusive environment for the LGBTQIA+ community
Creating an inclusive environment involves treating everyone with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. To support the LGBTQIA+ community, it is important to actively listen and learn about their experiences and challenges. This can involve educating ourselves on the language and terminology used within the community, as well as understanding the different forms of discrimination they may face. Creating safe spaces, such as gender-neutral bathrooms and pronoun usage, can also go a long way in making LGBTQIA+ individuals feel valued and supported. By taking these steps, we can work towards building a more inclusive society where everyone is accepted and heard. They can be who they are without fear!
Respecting, accepting, and supporting the entire LGBTQIA+ community is important if we want to tackle mental health issues within the community. All of us can support an inclusive environment by checking our own biases and being mindful of others feelings and boundaries. Furthermore, it’s essential to acknowledge the unique mental health needs of LGBTQIA+ individuals and criticize the structures that make them more vulnerable to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression than their heterosexual counterparts.
We have a responsibility to increase visibility of different resources available, provide education about common signs of mental illness and create more awareness so that queer identities can easily access help with their mental health anytime. Ultimately we must include all members of this community in order for there to be sustainable change regarding mental illness within the LGBTQIA+.
Briana Collins is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in Scarsdale at Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling, serving clients living in NY.
Briana specializes in working with individuals 13 and up, struggling with anxiety, life transitions, ADHD, and gender identity.
Briana uses a combination of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), EMDR Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness, and Gestalt & Schema Therapy in her work with clients.
Briana is available on weekdays & evenings Monday - Thursday, in our Scarsdale office or via Telehealth for video counseling sessions