Pride is Important for Mental Wellness
Pride is way more than the rainbow section at Target or just the 30 days pride month encompasses. Pride is for everyone and all the time. Pride elevates marginalized voices within the LGBTQ+ community. It’s important to remember that the LGBTQ+ plus community has not been acknowledged or affirmed by the general population until very recently. The fight for LGBTQ+ individual’s rights is ongoing in the United States and beyond. Prejudice and discrimination towards people of the community still runs rampant in the US today. This can sometimes cause individuals, especially LGBTQ+ youth, to be kicked out of their homes, bullied, and harassed. These experience can all be potentially damaging to one’s mental health. This month is a great time to educate ourselves on the intersection of pride and mental wellness. Go beyond your friends, coworkers, or relatives in the community when learning. It’s not just their responsibility to teach you; look to Google, the resources listed at the end of this article, and even some Instagram accounts to better learn about Pride and the LGBTQ+ community from things like different terms for different sexualities to in the history of pride and the community itself in the U.S.
Pride can be great for mental health! Pride provides a space where LGBTQ+ individuals are unequivocally encouraged to be themselves and express themselves. Pride can help one keep pushing and even remind them that they are not alone! Living in a society that is full of prejudice and discrimination and does not always affirm, respect, or acknowledge who you are is excruciatingly invalidating and leads to increased depression, suicidality, and anxiety. Below are some research statistics regarding how exactly LGBTQ+ individuals mental health is impacted by their environments and how they are more at risk for poor mental health outcomes.
Mental Health Statistics
- “Non-binary and transgender youth who have their pronouns respected by most people in their lives are 50% less likely to attempt suicide”. (Trevor Project)
- “Transgender youth…are twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms, seriously consider suicide, and attempt suicide compared to cisgender (people whose gender identity corresponds with their birth sex) lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and questioning youth”(NAMI)
- “Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition and twice as likely to report experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness than their heterosexual peers in youth.” (NAMI)
- “Transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals to experience a mental health condition.” (NAMI)
- “Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual youth also experience greater risk for mental health conditions and suicidality” (NAMI)
These mental health outcomes are largely caused by external factors such as bullying, verbal or physical victimization, loss of friends or family, and having their identity ignored or disrespected. The way much of society interacts with LGBTQ+ individuals can be harmful whether it be in home, socially, or in the work place.
How do I help?
Using someone’s pronouns, their correct name, and acknowledging and accepting their sexuality or gender are just some ways to decrease the possibility of poor mental health outcomes. Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual youth that “retained friends after disclosing their sexual identity” and those who have friends who were also a sexual minority presented with better self esteem and less depressive symptoms. Parental support of a LGBTQ+ youth’s identity is shown to provide the most benefit for the child. LGBTQ+ individuals “sexuality-related social support from parents, friends, and community during adolescence…contribute[d] to positive well-being in young adulthood”. (Russel & Fish, 2016)
In schools, LGBTQ+ curriculum and teaching has been shown to increase a sense of safety and security for LGBTQ+ youth at that school. Research has shown in youth, a LGBTQ+ child who is a part of a GSA organization (Gay-Straight Alliance, campus club that works to educate, combat bullying and prejudice against LGBTQ+ youth at the school) report less negative effects of bullying and better mental health well into their young adult life. (Russel & Fish, 2016)
You’ve probably heard the term Ally by now, but may not be exactly sure what that means or what that looks like practically for you! Maria Munir (they/them) the associate director of community engagement at Stonewall describes allyship as “someone who actively supports all LGBT+ communities, proactively challenges themselves to reflect and learn, and translates this support into action”. Allyship can be a great tool of change and help create safe and inclusive spaces in your community.
Here are 7 ways you can be a better LGBTQ+ Ally: (Nichola Carroll, 2020, UCL)
“Being a better ally means being open to the idea of being wrong sometimes and being willing to work on it.” -Nichola Carroll
- Be open to learn, listen and educate yourself
- Truly listen
- Ask questions respectfully
- Educate yourself on history, terminology, and struggles the community faces
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO GOOGLE
- Check your privilege
- Privilege can be: racial, class, education, being cis-gendered, able-bodied, or straight
- Understanding privilege can increase empathy with marginalized or oppressed individuals
- Don’t assume
- Don’t assume everyone is straight
- Don’t assume pronouns
- Previous partners do not define sexuality
- Think of ‘ally’ as an action rather than a label
- “Oppression doesn’t take breaks.”
- Be willing to be consistent in your support of LGBTQ+ rights and defend against discrimination.
- Anti-LGBTQ+ comments and jokes are harmful, let people know they are offensive
- Confront your own prejudices and unconscious bias
- Challenge any bias, stereotypes, or assumptions you didn’t realize you had
- Think about the jokes you make
- Think about the pronouns you use
- Prejudices can be subtle
- Know that language matters
- We respect when people change their nicknames, pronouns and LGBTQ+ people’s names are no different
- Integrate inclusive language in your conversation like gender neutral terms such as partner
- Know that you will mess up sometimes – breathe, apologize, and ask for guidance
- It happens, don’t panic
- Apologize and correct yourself (for example) “I’m sorry, that wasn’t the word I meant to use. I’m trying to be a better ally and learn the right terminology, but I’m still working on it. If you hear me misuse something, I’d really appreciate it if you could let me know.”
I want to celebrate this month but I’m not out yet.
This month is still for you!
I’m not a part of the LGBTQ+ community, but I want to support those that are.
This month is for you too! Research how to be a better ally and advocate.
I want to come out to my family, but I am scared of being invalidated or unhoused.
This month is for you! Your coming out journey is individualistic and you are the only one who knows when is the best time for you. Seek out support of those around you and make the best decision for yourself in your journey, and remember you are still valid whether or not you are out.
I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community and am feeling some of the symptoms you’ve described.
If you or a loved one resonated with this article and would like mental health support in any way please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to speak with one of our experienced mental health counselors.