Have you noticed extra rainbow-colored flags, clothing and other items around your community this month? This is because June is honored as Pride Month, when the world’s LBGTQ communities come together to celebrate their community.
Although Pride Month’s festivities are generally cheerful and high-spirited, Pride Month was put in place for a much more serious reason. Individuals in the LGBTQ communities have undergone years of hate and discrimination because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Not only do these communities face prejudice, but also face much higher risks of experiencing mental illness.
Studies show that LGBTQ individuals are almost 3 times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety disorder, or PTSD. This heightened and alarming statistic is due, in part, to the continuous hate-crimes and prejudice that the community faces on a regular basis.
In addition, it may be more difficult to find adequate treatment and recovery methods. Although more therapists and psychiatrists have positive and accepting attitudes toward the LGBTQ community, historically this hasn’t always been the case and people still face unequal care due to lack of training and/or understanding. Health care providers still do not always have knowledge of the unique needs of the LGBTQ community, training on LGBT mental health issues or culturally responsive environments/staff. Providers who lack knowledge and experience working with members of the LGBTQ community may focus more on a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity than a person’s mental health condition.
We all have experienced serious ups and downs throughout our lives. As you know, supportive and dependable relationships during this time are crucial in maintaining a healthy and happy mental state. The LGBTQ community is no exception. Those who are supporters of the LGBTQ community identify thesmselves as “allies”.
Here are some ways you can be an ally to the LGBTQ community:
- Be available to listen and support your LGBTQ friends and family members
- Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so
- Get involved in a pride event/parade or attend a support/social group open to allies
- Believe that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect
- Speak up against hate, even if it is something as small as an office joke. Let your friends, family and colleagues know you find it offensive
- Seek out opportunites to learn about the experiences of LGBTQ people. Have an open mind.
If you are seeking additional support, visit the Trevor Project. Their trained counselors are there to support you 24/7. If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the TrevorLifeline now at 866-488-7386.
Written by Jamie Gurgul, Operations Director