How to Be a True Ally During Pride Month*
Pride is about love, joy, and community – three of the essential keys to mental health and wellness. Furthermore, Pride Month comes right after Mental Health Awareness Month, making it the perfect opportunity to highlight just how you can take Pride in your mental health and support others to do the same!
It is important to recognize that recent studies have shown that LGBTQIA+ community members are twice as likely to struggle with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Trans and non-binary individuals are four times as likely. Whether you identify as LGBTQIA+ or as an ally, it is important to understand the unique mental health struggles that may be faced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Moreover, understanding these unique struggles provides allies with the ability to offer meaningful support.
By the same token, it is also important to note that the LGBTQIA+ community faces disproportionate rates of mental health conditions in comparison to the general population, with 1 in 3 LGBTQIA+ adults facing mental health challenges as opposed to 1 in 5 adults in the general population.
Understanding Why Your Support is Important
To be able to provide support, it is helpful to understand the LGBTQIA+ community’s unique challenges and be aware that mental health challenges can stem from both internal and external issues. While mental health challenges naturally vary from person to person, within the LGBTQIA+ community the major themes include:
- Feelings of shame, isolation, confusion, and dysphoria
- Rejection by family, friends, and the general community
- Homelessness because of rejection by family or loved ones
- Lack of support system or an accepting environment
- Physical, verbal, or sexual harassment, and abuse
- Inadequate medical and psychiatric healthcare
- Conflicting religious or spiritual beliefs
- Fear of being “outed” as well as the consequences of being “out”
How to Support the LGBTQIA+ People in Your Life During Pride Month and Beyond
Research shows that there is a strong connection between identity and mental health. In addition to this, it has been shown that people with strong and meaningful social relationships tend to be happier, healthier, and live longer than those who do not. A 2020 survey by The Trevor Project reported that 82% of LGBTQIA+ youth with at least one supportive person in their life, as well as access to a space they felt accepted, were 50% less likely to attempt suicide.
Whether you identify as LGBTQIA+ or as an ally, it is important to acknowledge and understand the disproportionate rates of mental health challenges in the LGBTQIA+ community. If you are an ally and are unsure of how you can support the LGBTQIA+ people in your life, here are a few ideas for how to offer meaningful support:
- Exemplify basic acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people’s identities and acknowledge their struggles
- Educate yourself on LGBTQIA+ terminology and history
- Intervene in situations of harassment or discrimination
- Using LGBTQIA+ people’s pronouns and names correctly
By simply being welcoming and accepting of the LGBTQIA+ people in our lives, we can take the first step to help improve mental health in the community.
Resources for LGBTQIA+ People
Remember – you are never alone! Countless organizations across the world are recognizing the importance of providing mental health resources for LGBTQIA+ adults and youth. A few examples include:
- The Trevor Project: Providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQIA+ people
- Audre Lorde Project: LGBTQIA+ People of Color community organizing center
- It Gets Better Project: Uplifting, empowering, and connecting LGBTQIA+ youth around the globe
- OutCare – An online, nationwide directory of healthcare providers who identify as culturally competent in the care of the LGBTQ+ community
Again, Pride Month is about love, joy, and community. Let us come together, LGBTQIA+ people and allies, to celebrate our likeness as well as our differences. When we care for ourselves and each other, we create a world in which everyone can take Pride in their mental health.
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