5 Effective Ways to Support your Mental Health as an LGBTQ+ Individual
Let’s get one thing clear: identifying as LGBTQ+ is not a mental health condition. But because of discrimination, societal stigma, and the lack of civil rights that LGBTQ+ people face, they are more likely to experience a mental health condition than heterosexual people.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, know you’re not alone and that it’s important to seek professional help if you need it. Treatment works and recovery from a mental health condition is possible for everyone.
In addition to seeking help, there are things you can do to take care of your mental health on your own. Here are 5 things you can do to support your mental health right now.
1. Build a support network or find a mentor
Opening up to others can feel scary and vulnerable, especially if, like many people in the LGBTQ+ community, you’ve faced discrimination at some point in your life. Acceptance and safety are important parts of mental wellbeing, so it’s crucial to have people around you who make you feel safe and understood. This support may come from someone in the LGBTQ+ community, a trusted friend, family member, therapist or other mental health professional. Feeling accepted by others can help nurture your sense of safety and alleviate feelings of isolation and shame that are not uncommon for LGBTQ+ people.
2. Acknowledge your past to foster resilience
Confronting your past hurt and acknowledging how it has shaped you can help you regain the control that is often lost when we experience trauma. Start by reflecting on how your past experiences shape your present relationships—with others and with yourself. This work can be self-guided or with the help of a professional, like a therapist or psychiatrist. It’s not easy, but processing past hardships instead of keeping them in the present or even trying to pretend they didn’t happen can help you build resilience and lead a fulfilling life. If processing your past feels like too much right now, that’s okay. Focusing on your future goals can also help you build a positive outlook and be beneficial to your mental health.
3. Practice self-compassion
Science tells us that people who practice self-compassion have better mental health outcomes than those who don’t. You can cultivate self-kindness by replacing self-criticism with understanding. Try accepting your thoughts without judgment or over-identification, and recognize that flaws and hardships are part of the human experience. It may feel like a daunting task, but activities like meditation or certain types of therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help you build self-compassion.
4. Acknowledge internalized homophobia
Most LGBTQ+ people have faced discrimination, homophobia, and stigmatization at some point in their lifetimes. Internalized homophobia happens when a person takes on these negative societal stereotypes as truths about themselves. Someone who experiences internalized homophobia might believe that their sexual orientation is “bad” or “wrong.” This can lead to feelings of self-hatred. Processing any internalized homophobia is an important step towards self-acceptance and mental well-being. Talking with trusted friends or working with a mental health professional, like a therapist, can help you recognize and process internalized homophobia.
5. Seek treatment for underlying mental health conditions
If you feel that your mental health is impacting your daily life, trust your instincts and seek help. Mental health conditions are medical conditions that require professional treatment. You can’t will away your symptoms and they don’t just go away on their own. Reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional like a therapist or psychiatrist. Many therapists and psychiatrists specialize in treating the LGBTQ+ population and are a safe space for you to receive high-quality care. Remember, treatment works, and you deserve to find balance and well-being.
Need help and aren’t sure where to start?
There are a lot of different types of mental health care providers and navigating them can feel overwhelming. If you’re not sure where to start, Talkiatry can help. Talkiatry is a national psychiatry practice that provides in-network, virtual care. Co-founded by a patient and a triple-board-certified psychiatrist, Talkiatry has over 300 doctors, 60 insurance partners, and first visits available in days. We treat patients with anxiety, depression, trauma, ADHD, and more. Get started with a short online assessment.
The information in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and should never be substituted for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you or someone you know may be in danger, call 911 or the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 right away.
Dr. Liu is board certified in Adult Psychiatry. She primarily focuses on medication management but integrates therapeutic support into her sessions. For more in depth therapy needs, Dr. Liu encourages patients to have their own individual therapist.
She received her undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. She then moved to Morgantown, West Virginia to complete her psychiatry residency.
Dr. Liu has experience working with patients from different backgrounds in inpatient, outpatient, and partial hospitalization settings. She particularly enjoys working with young adults and areas related to women's health such as perinatal mental health. She welcomes people from all cultures and is LGBTQ+ friendly.