How I Manage Mental Health As A Member Of The LGBTQ+ Community
Taking care of your mental health is important no matter who you are or what communities you belong to. However, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve personally found that there are certain specifics that go into taking care of my mental health that directly relate to my identity. This has become especially important to me as I’ve watched so much potentially damaging legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community being introduced in recent years.
Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community shapes who I am in so many ways, and it’s important to manage my mental health, and even other aspects of my health, from that perspective. Here are a few ways I do that in my daily life.
One of the most important things anybody can do to support their mental health is to find community wherever possible. Even if you live somewhere without a strong queer presence, it’s possible to find community in a variety of places. Having online friends has helped me a great deal with feeling a little bit less alone.
Additionally, community doesn’t necessarily have to mean queer community. Even those in my support system who don’t understand exactly what I’m going through can empathize and be there for me in their own way, and I think that’s very special.
Going to therapy can be an extremely beneficial tool for almost everybody, but it can be especially important to find a safe space if you tend to feel trapped in your regular life. Metal health risks are higher for queer and trans people, with a total of 58% suffering from some mental health condition.
Therapy can be a safe neutral zone in which anybody can work through their issues. I’ve found that consistently going to therapy has greatly improved my life and my outlook, even in areas that have nothing to do with my sexuality or gender identity.
Having a creative outlet has been incredibly transformative in my life and my mental health. Especially when the world makes me feel powerless or alone, turning to creative outlets like music and dance can offer a healthy distraction and a productive way to utilize my feelings positively.
Not everybody needs to be a great artist in order to use a creative outlet, and that’s one thing I find important to tell myself regularly. Creativity can be fun, and also extremely healthy.
Positive Coping Mechanisms
Beyond just creativity, I found that a variety of healthy coping mechanisms can help me maintain my mental health. This goes for things like exercise, routine, and eating healthy foods. Also, it goes for things like mindfulness and having a positive outlook in order to protect my feelings and my mental health around people who might not understand me and what I’m going through.
One thing that has been extremely influential on my mental state, as well as pleasantly surprising, is that offering support to others in the community can actually be extremely beneficial for my own mental health. I never expected giving back to have a direct impact on my mental state, but being supportive of LGBTQ+ youth is rewarding, enriching, and even healing in a lot of ways.
Although this one doesn’t necessarily have a lot to do with the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve still found that it plays an important role in my mental health. Moderation is something that comes into the picture in a variety of ways, from things like alcohol to social gatherings.
Not only do I utilize moderation when it comes to habits like drinking, but I also recognize that there are other things I should take in moderation, too. One of those things for me is news consumption, since there is so much harmful rhetoric on the internet and social media about LGBTQ+ people, and also just in general. Really, this is just another way I can introduce balance into my life and take back some control.
Although this may have already been addressed through the previous points of therapy and positive coping mechanisms, overall, I found it to be extremely important to dedicate time and energy to practicing self-care.
There are plenty of ways that self-care can manifest itself in my life, and I find it to be a crucial part of my mental health maintenance. This can be especially helpful for those who feel as though they haven’t gotten the care they need from the community around them.
Mental Health for LGBTQ+ People
There are so many ways that I have grown and changed in order to better support my mental health in recent years. Both as a queer person and as a person existing in the world, I am extremely grateful to continue to learn and grow in this way.
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