As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, we must reaffirm our commitment to have open, honest discussions about the impact of mental health disparities on the LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ people are nearly three times as likely as others to experience a mental health condition such as anxiety or a mood disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
And for bisexual and transgender people, as well as those living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities, those numbers are even higher.
Breaking the silence about these issues is a key step to reducing stigma and empowering each other to seek help and support when needed.
Here are three ways you can help:
1. Provide a shoulder for someone to lean on.
Many LGBTQ people experience family rejection, bullying and harassment, or feel unsafe in their communities for simply being who they are, all of which can be added risk factors for anxiety and mood disorders. It can feel incredibly isolating not knowing whether there’s someone in your corner willing to listen, love and support you exactly as you are.
2. Work for equality in your community.
Breaking down the barriers LGBTQ people face takes more than the support of friends and family. Laws and legislation must reflect the lived experiences of LGBTQ people and provide a supportive, inclusive infrastructure so that everyone is able to seek appropriate care and can feel safe in their homes, schools and workplaces.
3. Share your story.
Sharing our experiences is a powerful way to chip away at the bias, discrimination and rejection that place LGBTQ people at high risk of compromised mental health. Our stories can show others that they are not alone in their struggles and that there is hope and a community to support you when things seem dark.
If you are struggling, check out Mental Health America’s screening tool to take confidential mental health screenings and learn more about potential treatment options.
Your story matters, and you are not alone.