Have PRIDE in Mental Health

June commemorates PRIDE month. The month is for celebrating and remembering both the best and the worst in the histories of our LGBTQ+ families and friends. Our goal during PRIDE month is to honor and embrace all that it means to be affirmed as an LGBTQ+ person(s).

Even during a month of celebration and pride in the many contributions and accomplishments of LGBTQ+ individuals and groups, stigma and mistreatment of gender identity has not gone away. Discriminatory practices around sexual orientation and gender identity are still needing to be confronted. PRIDE month, unfortunately, has to be as much about that as about celebrating the very best of humanity.

It is known that the LGBTQ+ population challenges related to mental health far outweigh that of other populations. For instance, 40% of the adult transgender population have attempted suicide compared to 5% of the general population. Our bisexual teens, are 4 times more likely to have attempted suicide than their heterosexual peers (Discovery Mood and Anxiety). 60% of LGBTQ+ youth who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it (Trevor Project).

Much of what is happening with the LGBTQ+ population is that the stresses surrounding issues like isolation, stigma-oriented treatment at work, home and in the community, and lack of safety in any number of environments, creates pressures that other populations do not experience at the same level. The idea of “coming out” to family and friends and not being able to predict the outcome is definitely something no other population has to experience. Issues like these combined over time is more than enough to de-stabilize one’s mental health and positive life balance. When feeling consistently unaccepted by others, it becomes increasingly difficult to accept yourself.

Being affirming and accepting, providing support and seeing each person as valuable in their own right is key to helping LGBTQ+ individuals achieve self-acceptance and appreciation and find mental health. Any one of us can be the change and make the difference for inclusion and an environment of trust and caring. Some things you can actively do are: Ask and seek to understand the pronouns and comfort in identity of everyone. Just talk to people! Get educated. Be genuine and ask questions. Ask about everything: identity, aspirations, interests, and what someone needs to feel safe. Don’t be an uninvolved bystander. If someone is being singled out and treated badly, step in, stay safe, but step in. This can mean speaking up or calling 911, then staying with the person until they are secure. Vote! Make sure that the candidates that win support equal treatment for all. Make sure the candidates elected know the struggles for insurance and healthcare for the LGBTQ+ populations. Take a course like Mental Health First Aid to learn how to help in a mental health crisis.

In general, be kind in thought and action. It is that simple to make a difference for someone.

If you know someone who is thinking of suicide or is feeling mentally unhealthy, please take a moment to help them contact the Assessment and Referral team at Lake Behavioral Hospital. Our team is ready to provide a free, confidential assessment to help find just the right level of care. Call us at 855-990-1900, 24/7/365. By walk in or appointment, we are available to help.