June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month, an important opportunity to celebrate and recognize the many different individuals who make up the LGBTQ+ community.
Every June, rainbow flags are proudly displayed as a symbol of solidarity and acceptance, and parades and events in countries around the world are held to honor the June 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which is often referred to as the beginning of the LGBTQ+ movement. Pride Month serves as a rallying cry for equality and visibility for those who have been marginalized or excluded, and a reminder that everyone has a right to live authentically and without prejudice.
LGBTQ+ Struggles: Mental Health and Discrimination
As Pride Month celebrates the progress made in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights, we must also acknowledge that disparities in mental health remain within this community. Despite increased visibility and acceptance in many countries around the world, research shows that LGBTQ+ individuals are still more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide than their non-LGBTQ+ peers.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition, and transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals to experience one. This can be due to a variety of factors, including internalized homophobia, social stigma and lack of acceptance, and violence against LGBTQ+ individuals.
Prioritizing LGBTQ+ mental health this month
These dire statistics emphasize the need for increased support within the LGBTQ+ community. Establishing a nurturing environment with unconditional acceptance and understanding can help create a strong sense of community and instill pride in one’s identity. Allies can also do their part by engaging in meaningful dialogue with LGBTQ+ friends and family to promote understanding. Everyone can have a positive impact on LGBTQ+ individuals by doing the following:
- Educate yourself about the struggles LGBTQ+ people face.
- Be supportive when talking to LGBTQ+ individuals about their hopes, dreams, and fears.
- Intervene if you see someone being bullied or discriminated against.
- Oppose legislation that infringes on LGBTQ+ rights.
- Normalize conversations about the absence of societal acceptance for LGBTQ+ communities.
- Ask LGBTQ+ people what pronouns they prefer and use them accurately in speech, writing, and other forms of communication.
- Share mental health resources and encourage LGBTQ+ individuals who are struggling to seek professional help when necessary.
In addition to providing everyday support, organizations and medical providers specializing in LGBTQ+ health are available to offer guidance and assistance. At Forge Health, we create a safe, judgment-free space for clients to access the specialized mental health and addiction treatment services they need.
Our LGBTQ+ programs promote inclusivity, understanding, and respect by addressing the specific mental health and substance use needs of individuals of various gender identities and sexual orientations. Through our programs, we strive to:
- Support the affirmation and understanding of one’s gender identity and sexual orientation
- Elevate confidence and self-esteem
- Expand understanding and respect for individual identity and diversified gender
- Reduce stigma, shame, and discrimination associated with LGBTQ+ identity
As we celebrate Pride Month, we are reminded of the crucial need for inclusion, acceptance, and respect for all members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially when it comes to accessing quality mental health and substance use services. Forge Health is committed to creating a safe and supportive environment to access care without fear, stigma, or prejudice.