HRC Blog

The Importance of Improving and Sustaining Mental Health

This post is from Dr. Drew Walther, a licensed clinical psychologist and National Chapter Director for Active Minds, Inc. Active Minds is a rapidly growing network of hundreds of student-led chapters at colleges and universities that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking.
 
This National Suicide Prevention Week it is important for LGBT people to continue to focus on improving and sustaining their mental health throughout their lifespan.
 
Professionals estimate that as many as one in four individuals are impacted by a diagnosable mental illness and for a population already facing stigma around identity, seeking treatment can be even more challenging.
 
Even when the distress is not our own, hearing about violence, hearing hateful rhetoric from the media, politics, or religion or knowing a person who died by suicide can increase our own risk for distress.
 
Sadly, LGBT populations have a high incidence of a range of mental health concerns to deal with – including bullying, increased substance use and suicide.

In the past year, media attention on youth suicide has drawn attention to the issue for our community, but the reality remains that LGBT individuals often face harsh realities well beyond K-12 education.
 
Growing up feeling like an outsider can have long-lasting effects that may end up damaging relationships, employment and self-care.
 
How we cope with incidents of stress in our life can have major impact on how we recover and prepare for the next stressful period.
 
Thankfully, there are many healthy options to pursue. Turning to self-care including reaching out to support networks, developing a varied exercise regimen, finding a trusted professional for psychotherapy or counseling, journaling, incorporating centering activities (including mediation, yoga and journaling) into your routines, healthy eating, and socializing can help all of us overcome current or past psychological distress.
 
In times of crisis, utilizing a telephone hotline, connecting to your therapists’ after-hours service or going directly to a hospital emergency room can all be options to help you get through intense, but normal, psychological distress.
 
Finding the ways to ask for help and get the support you need can be the most challenging – and most rewarding – steps to moving forward with a healthy mentality.

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