Mental Health in the LGBTQIA+ Community
June is Pride Month. It is a month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and culture. It's a time to uplift their voices and spread awareness in society around the continued activism work that needs to be done. In addition, we want to use this month to help spread awareness around LGBTQ mental health and share self-care tips that LGBTQ+ individuals can use to improve their mental health.
Many LGBTQ+ individuals experience minority trauma from experiences of discrimination and hate in their lives. This can easily take a toll on your mental health and lead to things like loneliness, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse struggles.
The current state of mental health in the LGBTQ population
According to The Trevor Project, during the 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth, 73% of LGBTQ youth reported suffering from anxiety symptoms, while 58% of the same population experienced extreme symptoms of depression.
The report conveys that over 45% of LGBTQ youth have considered suicide as a means of ending their pain and hardships, while nearly 14% have attempted to die by suicide.
These figures are alarming and should raise attention within society. If we don't take action, this population will continue to struggle unnecessarily.
LGBTQ stressors for mental health
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community deal with the same daily stressors that everyone else is dealing with. This can include trauma, forms of abuse, stress, financial struggles, relationship problems, and burnout. But in addition, they may experience additional stressors unique to their identity, including the following.
Unfortunately, it is all too common for LGBTQ youth and adults to be victims of bullying. This can include being harassed, receiving threats, and acts of violence. As a result, members of the LGBTQ+ community may feel the need to hide their true selves from others out of fear.
2. Lack of Acceptance and Support from Others
Another stressor unique to the LGBTQ+ community is struggling with self-acceptance and a lack of acceptance from others, including family and friends. It can be a struggle to step into and embrace and step into your true identity when those closest to you may not accept you for who you are. It's natural to want those you care about to be proud of you, and it can feel lonely when you feel rejected by them.
3. Social Isolation
Lack of social interaction can be harmful to anyone, but this can be a unique struggle for the LGBTQ+ population. They may feel excluded from family gatherings or workplace conversations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. They may also feel it's necessary to distance themselves if they hide this part of their identity from others out of fear of slipping up and saying too much.
Self Care Tips for LGBTQIA+ Individuals
Self-care plays a vital role in everyone's mental health and emotional wellness. While these activities are things that are easy to skip when struggling with anxiety, depression, or lack of motivation in life, they are the same activities that can help you start feeling a little better.
Here are some self-care tips that you can add to your everyday life to be proactive in taking care of your mental health and overcome anxiety and depression:
1. Take a break
It may not sound like a big thing, but taking a break from your routine can help you step back and refocus your thoughts. This can create the necessary space for you to work on reframing negative thoughts into positive ones. It can also provide you with a break from negative influences in your life.
You can use this time to journal, reflect, sleep, or do any other activity that helps you feel rested and refreshed mentally.
2. Connect with people who support you
Having a solid support system is important for our mental health and wellness; however, this may be challenging when the people in your life don't support you. Therefore, it's important to find a community of like-minded people that you can rely on, trust, and be yourself around.
There are many ways to build this community in your life if it's currently lacking. For example, you can look for social groups in your community that meet up and go to events together. You could also find an online support group of others who understand the unique challenges you're facing.
You don't have to settle for relationships with people who don't support and embrace you just as you are.
3. Exercise and Move Your Body
Exercising on an everyday basis, such as doing yoga, can allow you to calm your mind and recalibrate your thoughts away from the unhealthy situations around you.
Many studies show the positive link between regular exercise and increasing mental wellness. If you've had a bad day and are feeling down or dealing with difficult emotions, moving your body can help you boost your mood.
4. Watch your Favorite Movie or Series
Entertaining yourself can also be an effective way of coping with the anxiety and stress you are feeling inside. Diverting your attention can allow you to forget about your negative thoughts and focus more on the happy moments of life that can make you laugh and feel inspired.
However, while these breaks can help you unwind and maybe even laugh on a rough day, it's important not to rely on television and movies as an escape from real life. That is not self-care. If you find yourself doing this, a therapist can help you learn helpful strategies to improve your mental health and wellness.
5. Learn a New Talent or Skill
Exploring your talents and skills can allow you to rethink your goals in life and can even help you find the path you want to be on. Taking classes to learn new skills is also a great way to connect with others and find new friends with shared interests.
Therapists can provide you with a safe and judgment-free environment to be yourself and explore all areas of your life. They can also teach you coping skills and strategies to help you overcome anxiety, depression, or other struggles you are facing in life.
The NEST is a validating and safe space where you can get help and support as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. We also have therapists specializing in LGBTQ therapy. Schedule an appointment online today or call our office at 651-425-9297.