This article was published on February 8th, 2020
Current statistics report members of the LGBTQ+ community are three times as likely to suffer from mental illness in comparison to their straight/cis counterparts. The reasons for these are many and varied, included, but not limited to the prevailing prejudice in the healthcare provider field, reluctance to seek out care for fear of discrimination, plus the ongoing marginalization rampant against the gay community, also referred to as ‘minority stress’.
The ‘otherization’ of the LGBTQ+ community has made it increasingly difficult, even in current times, for members to procure assistance for their mental health needs. Those living in the gay community face daily microaggressions and forms of oppression with every day, normal social interactions that can be full of apprehension. Being able to engage with the outside world in a positive manner is something that everyone should have as a constant.
In recent years, there has been more acceptance of mental health issues affecting all communities, and there have been several organizations that are helping to eliminate the stigma surrounding those living with mental illness, allowing them to discuss their struggles more openly, as well as access more resources and centers for support. Still, there is much to be done – particularly in the LGBTQ+ community – and the practice of self-care has gained traction as one of the most integral components of support.
This issue is compounded by the facts that members of the LGBTQ+ community are likely to have a lower socio-economic status than their heteronormative counterparts, and resources are not designed for their distinct needs, deeming it necessary for members to devise and disseminate their own mental health support systems that address their particular needs. Today, the advent of social media, and other forms of digital media have made it possible to more effectively help those afflicted with mental health issues feel less isolated and alone.
HomoCulture has compiled a list that members of the LGBTQ+ community can use that derives from activists and mental health professionals in support of nurturing your mental health online.
The Digital Health Kickstarter
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to go analog to maintain a healthy existence. In fact, some of the leading apps are currently designed to improve the amount of resources available to those that need self-care. In today’s world, people use technology for everything, including mental health, making smartphones a key component to enhancing our lives across the board. Popular self-care apps include Headspace, Shine, and Calm.
In Search of LGBTQ+ Supportive Communities
If you cannot find these directly where you reside, another option is to look online for such a community that aligns with and supports you in your entirety. Finding groups that support your intersectionality is important in order to build on relationships and stave off the feelings of isolation that plague many people in the gay community.
Protecting privacy and having a different online persona has been a lifeline for many LGBTQ+ people, with some opining that being able to find groups via aliases has resulted in them finding out that they are not alone and there are others out there worldwide that hold similar beliefs. These private and/or secret groups have been support groups for many that otherwise would have contemplated suicide.
Online Versus Offline Relationships
Neither is above the other, and online relationships can be just as vital and revelatory as those had with offline people. Spending time with those that you know, and love can be a beautiful experience, but it also poses challenges for those that suffer from anxiety. Thankfully, there are a dearth of resources online that allow users more space to realize themselves in full by removing those barriers of showing up in person. It is important to remember that support systems do not have to always be physical in nature.
The Self Check-In
Form time to time, it is also important to check-in with yourself, reassessing how online interaction is affecting your energy, life, and overall health. Pinpoint what is helping you and what can be calibrated in order to reach those personal goals you have for yourself. Educate yourself about yourself by finding time to discover what makes you happy as the ultimate goal is to build a positive relationship with yourself in order to be whole in every sense of the word.
The Power of Creativity and Creation
We are all creative beings and finding other creative beings to share a common experience is a great benefit to living in the digital age. Queer artists on social media have resonated with others that are going through the same struggles and this is one avenue that individuals can use to connect to a larger community.
Haves Versus Needs
Use technology to fill in the gaps between what you desire and what you require. Once you have compiled a network that gives you most of your resources, an option is to find those that are available online that can steer you in the right direction or help you to create one on your own. Step by step, you have the power to go from being anonymous to being seen and heard.