This article was published on April 30th, 2020
One of the most wonderful aspects of identifying as LGBT is that there is a community of like-minded and supportive people who understand our personal struggles and can provide guidance and mentorship. However, connecting to the LGBT community isn’t always easy, for a number of personal and emotional reasons. During a lifetime, each LGBT person goes through a process of evolution and often faces hardship. Its why mental health awareness initiatives are so important, like Mental Health Awareness Month this May.
LGBT people face a disproportionate amount of mental health struggles when compared to the non-LGBT population. The checklist of possible external pressures is confronting—from bullying and self-esteem issues during adolescence, through to relationship and family issues, threats of violence and substance abuse. Discrimination comes in many forms, in the workplace, in relation to gender, and also in relation to a person’s HIV/AIDS status, to name a few examples. Youth suicide statistics amongst LGBT people are exponentially higher and heartbreaking.
An awareness month is a good opportunity to be reflective and to consider all the proactive ways we can take action as individuals and as a community, especially if you find yourself struggling or you know someone who is struggling with their mental health.
As the world moves towards a place of understanding and acceptance, our collective goal should be to reduce any trace of shame or stigma attached to seeking services in relation to mental health, for any reason.
From basic mindfulness and meditation, through to therapy, there are a number of ways for LGBT people to take small steps towards improving their own mental health.
But there are also a range of local and national LGBT support groups as well as mental health initiatives which are available, and which will be promoting their services this May. In many cases, LGBT specific programs and trained caseworkers are available to work with you, and many services are available online to help reduce any geographic or personal barriers to seeking help.
If you’re unsure about your options, start by reading up on the The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, which runs regular events relating to mental health. Other leading authorities include GLSEN, which focuses on K-12 education programs, and The Trevor Project, which runs the TrevorLifeLine at 1-866-488-7386. There is plenty of information available, but the most important thing you can do is to choose to seek help.
This May, remember to make some time to check in with yourself and the people around you. Mental health is something we can all be more attuned to, in ourselves and others. We owe it to each other to spread love and acceptance this May, and every day.
For more information relating to specific mental health services in your area, contact your physician, local help line, or LGBT support group. There are many resources to help you through your tough times.