Our international guest writer Indiana Lee, talks about Mental Health.
Everyone’s mental health and well-being have suffered in the past few years. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 forced us to isolate and weaken many of the social bonds that we rely on.
LGBTQ+ individuals may have suffered more than most. The queer community relies on close connections and a sense of togetherness to overcome bigotry and hate.
Offering support for LGBTQ+ individuals’ mental health is paramount. Helping queer folks find the right therapist for them can save lives and help everyone overcome the challenges they face.
Queer Mental Health
Public understanding of LGBTQ+ issues is improving. However, many queer folks still face bigotry and discrimination in their everyday lives. This means that those who identify as queer are at heightened risk of developing a mental health condition like anxiety or depression.
Current statistics on LGBTQ+ mental health suggest that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are two times more likely to live with depression or anxiety. Depression rates are much higher amongst trans folks, who are four times more likely to experience depression or anxiety than cis-gendered people.
It’s important to note the environmental factors that put LGBTQ+ individuals at a higher risk of struggling with mental health conditions. Many queer folks still face prejudice and hate when they decide to come out. 40% of LGBT adults have experienced rejection from a family member due to their sexual orientation or gender identity and 86% of LGBTQ youth have been harassed at school.
These figures underline the need for appropriate healthcare and mental health support for LGBTQ+ individuals.
No amount of hot yoga or green tea can replicate the benefits of visiting a licensed, LGTBQ+-friendly mental health professional. Seeing a medical professional can help queer folks get the support and/or medication they may need to start taking control of their mental health.
Unfortunately, some healthcare professionals are not as LGBTQ+ friendly or inclusive as they advertise. Bad experiences in healthcare can put folks off for life, and create a negative association with professional care and well-being.
Queer folks can find the support they need by searching through LGBTQ+ therapist directories or working with businesses like Pride Counseling. Organizations like Pride Counseling have licensed, trained therapists who understand the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community. They offer telehealth services that can be accessed from anywhere with Wi-Fi and are encrypted to bank-level security standards.
Therapy can give LGBTQ+ individuals important skills to overcome challenges and practice better thought patterns and behaviors. The goal of therapy is typically to improve self-advocacy and resilience so that folks can move through their lives without the assistance of a therapist.
LGBTQ+ individuals can self-advocate and gain resiliency by learning how to express their queerness in a way that feels right for them. Learning about the history of queerness can help LGBTQ+ folks feel connected to a powerful and meaningful history.
LGBTQ+ individuals can also choose to get involved in pride-related activities and celebrations. Pride celebrations are a great opportunity to become an activist and use their personal style for self-expression. Pride is also a great time to connect with folks who have had similar experiences and gather resources. LGBTQ+ individuals can learn about supportive organizations in their area and ask about inclusive counseling from folks with first-hand experience.
Hobbies are great for our mental health. Focusing on a task we love takes our minds away from life’s stressors and can help people form greater self-reliance and confidence. Some of the best hobbies to improve mental health and well-being include:
- Camping and hiking
These hobbies can connect LGBTQ+ individuals to their community and help them form supportive bonds. Queer folks can meet members of their town or city while whittling on wood or learning how to camp and hike safely in the great outdoors. This also gives LGBTQ+ a chance to share their experiences in a safe environment and can create opportunities for reflection and consciousness-raising.
Developing skills and gaining new experiences can give LGBTQ+ individuals a greater sense of purpose. Hobbies like hiking and backpacking can spark an interest in environmentalism and natural stewardship. Likewise, gardens can be used to feed those in need and a passion for cooking will serve LGBTQ+ folks well should they decide to volunteer in shelters and food banks.
Supporting LGBTQ+ individuals is an important step towards a more just, inclusive society. Well-trained therapists and mental health providers can help LGBTQ+ individuals overcome the specific challenges and stressors they face.
Queer individuals can also find support by joining community organisations and volunteer groups. Volunteering in the community is a great way to build resilience and find purpose. LGBTQ+ peeps who volunteer are also in a great position to self-advocate and raise the consciousness of their local towns and cities.