Mental Health Awareness Month. As we come to the end of May, we wanted to provide some tips to making mental health a priority. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community aren't inherently more prone to mental illness - rather, we exist in a system and culture that contributes ro distress, which can lead to experiences of anxiety, depression, or PTSD.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are 3 times as likely to experience mental health problems than their cis straight counterparts. It’s also estimated that LGBTQ+ people are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, according to a GLAAD study. Read more about the importance of Mental Health on our website. 

Members of the LGBTQ+ community aren’t inherently more prone to mental illness- rather, existing in a system that perpetuates heterosexism, cisexism, mononormativity, and monogamy contribute to distress, which can lead to experiences of anxiety, depression, or PTSD. LGBTQ+ people who are POC, neurodiverse, of lower socioeconomic status face compounded challenges navigating systems steeped in oppression. That’s why it’s so important that we prioritize our mental health and have the tools to manage stressful situations and environments that are not as affirming as we would hope. On your worst days, when you are simply focusing on survival, please remember that your existence is resistance. 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and since we know our community is more likely to struggle in this area, we wanted to provide some tips to prioritizing your mental health. This list isn’t meant to be a solution to our struggles, but to act as a starting point toward healing. 

1.   Find someone safe to talk to – Don’t be afraid to talk about your struggles with a friend, family member, therapist, mentor or someone you feel safe with. Talking openly about what you’re experiencing with a support network can help you relieve stress and feel less alone in your struggles.

2.  Know when to walk away – When you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation and you can feel your stress level rising, it’s OK to walk away. Your emotional well-being is more important than gaining acceptance you may not receive.

3.   Listen to your body – Pay attention to where you feel stress, whether in your shoulders, your stomach, or chest. If your body is telling you you’re stressed, ask yourself what your body needs. It may be telling you it needs food, sleep, meditation, exercise, or any number of things. Give your body the rest or fuel it needs to keep going.

4.   Find a healthy outlet – Think about what you love to do and do it! Whether it’s painting, running, baking, dancing, or writing, do something that you know brings you joy.

5.   Seek outside therapy or medication – Let’s face it, some struggles require more than a stroll through the park or quick nap. We have all needed to seek professional help or medication to help with extraordinarily difficult circumstances. It’s okay to ask for help and get the assistance we need. Finding an LGBTQIA+ affirming therapist or doctor can help. 

6.   Find ways to empower yourself and the LGBTQ+ community – vote, get involved with organizations that promote LGBTQ+ wellbeing, attend protests, work to change the systems of oppression that continue to hinder people with marginalized identities. 

Those of us at the Utah Pride Center’s Community Counseling Center want you to know that you are unique and are beautiful the way you are. You have unique qualities that make you special and we should all celebrate that. Be kind to yourself and know you are loved by so many people who support you and want you to succeed. We’re all in this together and together we are stronger. 

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