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Caring for Your Mental Health as a Member of the LGBTQ+ Community

Caring for Your Mental Health as a Member of the LGBTQ+ Community

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are twice as likely to experience a mental health condition than heterosexual adults, and this ratio increases to nearly four time as likely to experience a mental health condition when comparing transgender and cisgender adults. LGBTQ+ members are more likely to experience substance use disorders, homelessness and suicidal thoughts or attempts as a result of mental health issues. This is why it is imperative to stay proactive and take action for positive changes in your mental health.

First, if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts and need immediate help, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. There are also often local crisis numbers to contact for your specific region/city. Jefferson Center is a partner in Colorado’s statewide crisis network, Colorado Crisis Services. Call this toll-free hotline number: 1-844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255 to immediately access these crisis services. A walk-in crisis center is located at Jefferson Center’s Crisis & Recovery Center, 4643 Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033.

Coming out can be an emotionally exhausting and anxiety-inducing act for an LGBTQ+ individual. Keep in mind that you don’t “owe” anyone the disclosure of coming out, especially if you feel that your personal safety would be in question. Coming out can often feel alienating, as though you are hiding your true self from reality, but really it is societal homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia that create an unwelcoming environment. The phrase “coming out” often centers on the person you are coming out to rather than yourself, so a more helpful way to think about it might be “inviting in.”

If you’re looking for help with any number of mental health issues, therapy is one of the most constructive steps you can take. This can feel a bit daunting, and there’s also a valid reason for many LGBTQ+ members to feel skeptical about mental health care. Until 1973, the American Psychiatry Association identified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Mental health care professionals have come a long way in adopting more progressive ideals, but unfortunately, some still hold prejudice against LGBTQ+ individuals. This is why it is important to do your research when choosing your mental health team. There are many various modes of therapy as well, from group therapy to animal-assisted therapy to creative arts therapy and so many more. Your success will depend on what issues you are facing and how you best respond to treatment. Jefferson Center provides a wide range of programs and services to support the community, and our staff remains committed to serving marginalized communities and recognizing the discrimination they face that may exacerbate their mental health issues.

After reaching out to a mental health care professional, it is also a good idea to surround yourself with a supportive community if you do not find yourself in many safe spaces. Over 40% of LGBTQ+ adults have faced rejection from a family member or close friend. 86% of LGBTQ+ youth face harassment at school, and only 37% feel that their home is an affirming space. Local LGBTQ+ community centers and social groups are great sources to find these support networks. The Center on Colfax and One Colorado are great local organizations. Some workplaces are now introducing internal LGBTQ+ groups committees, and many schools and universities have LGBTQ+ and Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. For individuals who practice religion, finding affirming places of worship can be one of the best sources of community.

Stay knowledgeable of available resources. Jefferson Center has compiled a list of LGBTQ+ Resources. This includes helpful information on medical care, therapy services, support organizations, youth-specific programs, online resources, and more. Remember that you will always be your greatest advocate!

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    Getting Started
    Jefferson Center provides client-centered services designed to meet your individual mental health, substance use, and wellness needs. We’re dedicated to meeting you where you are in your journey and working together to help you live a satisfying and hopeful life.

    Emergency & Crisis Services
    • Hotline
    • Walk-in crisis centers
    • Mobile crisis services throughout the state