13 Oct What You Can do to Support the Mental Health of LGBTQ+ Loved Ones
During the second week of October, CHRIS 180 celebrates Atlanta Pride. This time of year brings festivals, parades and a host of enriching activities to advance unity and visibility amongst Atlanta’s LGBTQ+ community. Pride is not just about fun celebrations, it is about supporting the beauty, diversity and wellbeing of the community year round.
After many decades of celebrating Pride in June at Piedmont Park, organizers decided to celebrate Pride to align with National Coming Out Day – a celebration of the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Family members aren’t the only allies communities should have – organizations and employers should work to create more inclusive spaces as well through education and training.
Due to exclusion, discrimination, family rejection, harassment and violence, many members of the LGBTQ+ community suffer mental health struggles. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “LGBTQ individuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexual men and women to have a mental health disorder in their lifetime. They are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance misuse compared with heterosexual individuals.”
Families and loved ones play a major role in improving the mental health outcomes of those struggling to feel accepted and loved by society. CHRIS 180 works to educate families towards acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth and provides an environment of healing and inclusion through our CHRIS Counseling Centers and programs.
Support your loved ones
Acknowledge and Affirm your loved one’s identity
Feeling seen and supported is a psychological need that all people must feel to reach fulfillment . According to The Trevor Project, accepting adults can reduce the likelihood of LGBTQ+ youth attempting suicide by 40%. Affirming loved ones’ identities also includes respecting friends and family members’ chosen gender pronouns.
Support Their Decision to Seek Therapy
There is overwhelming research that backs the benefits of therapy and its impact on helping people improve their lives, self-esteem and self-efficacy. Therapy can help families improve their communication skills and tackle emotional issues that can negatively affect LGBTQ+ individuals. Identity affirming providers also provide a crucial support system for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Identify and Tackle Implicit Bias
Implicit bias is a form of bias that occurs automatically and unintentionally. Those who are biased towards individuals or groups will attribute particular qualities to them which affects personal judgments, decisions and behaviors. Through a willingness to understand and learn more about people from a variety of backgrounds and acknowledging the positives in others, it is possible to become allies to your LGBTQ+ coworkers, friends and family members.
Get Involved in the Community
Getting involved as an ally in the community can include giving back to LGBTQ+ communities and helping loved ones find organizations that support their wellbeing. CHRIS 180 is the first and largest nonprofit organization in Georgia to openly celebrate and serve LGBTQ+ youth. In 1988, we began advocacy at the state level on behalf of LGBTQ+ youth who are in foster care. There are many opportunities to get involved and support the work we do and policies that will positively impact those you care about.
Briyanna Ferguson is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at CHRIS 180. She can be reached at [email protected]