Extensive research conducted globally has highlighted the heightened prevalence of mental health issues among individuals within the LGBTQ+ community compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Findings from the National Survey 2022, conducted by the TREVOR Project, further emphasize this concerning trend, revealing that LGBTQ+ individuals are 2.4 times more susceptible to experiencing mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. These statistics underscore the urgent need to address the mental health disparities faced by the LGBTQ+ community and develop strategies to promote their overall well-being. We asked mental health professionals to create a guide for those discovering their identity and need support. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Self-Acceptance is the key: Embrace and accept your sexual orientation, gender identity, and any other aspects of your identity. Remember that you are valid and deserving of love and respect.
Shruti Swaroop, Founder and Managing Consultant at Embrace Consulting, says, “It’s tough to be yourself when faced by the societal pressures — who we are and what we are expected to be by our friends, family, acquaintances … it’s a challenge people face everyday — something we are and we carry. Our identity defines our choices, our habits and in general our overall existence. Hence, it is important to accept yourself the way you are.”
Mynoo Maryel, life and business coach and an acclaimed author of BE BOOK shares some tips to embrace self-acceptance.
Know thyself: You are born with Dignity. Dignity is honouring your worthiness. Focus your attention on yourself and identify all that is worthy of you. You will reconnect to your strength and societal pressures will dissipate.
A to Z game to uplift yourself: Choose one word that you appreciate about yourself from A to Z. By the time you get to Z you are on a high feeling good about who you are. Honouring your worthiness.
Acceptance not explanation: When you start explaining or justifying yourself you get stuck in the emotion of “something is not right and has to be explained”. Unconditionally accept all that is and move forward with dignity owning your worthiness.
You are always choosing: We are born with choice as our modus of operation. Choose with awareness and reclaim the power you have over your happiness. Trying can be exhausting. So simply stop trying, make a decision and act on it. It unleashes your lightness of being.
2. Educate yourself: Once you have accepted your identity, it is important to educate yourself. Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, Founder-Director and Senior Psychiatrist at Manasthali says that it is important to learn more about different aspects of your identity, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and the experiences of others in the LGBTQ+ community. Understanding yourself better can provide clarity and a sense of belonging.
3. Seek Supportive Communities: Surround yourself with supportive and affirming people who accept you for who you are. Engage with LGBTQ+ communities, both online and offline, where you can find understanding, empathy, and connection.
Hemangi Mhaprolkar, senior Psychologist from Mpower, says, “The LGBTQ+ community endures stigma, discrimination, and a lack of acceptance, which can have an enormous effect on their psychological well-being. Isolation and a sense of non-belonging are frequently the results of the battle to balance one’s real self with cultural standards. Furthermore, these individuals are at greater risk to experience anxiety, despair, low self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts.”
4. Advocate for LGBTQ+ Rights: Engage in advocacy efforts that promote LGBTQ+ rights and equality. Advocacy can provide a sense of purpose, empower you, and contribute to positive change for the community. It has been seen those who advocate for their community not only empower others but they empower themselves in the process. If you happen to meet any queer advocate, you’ll sense their confidence on their sleeves.
5. Last but not least, celebrate Your Identity: Embrace and celebrate your queer identity. Participate in LGBTQ+ events, Pride celebrations, and other activities that allow you to express yourself and connect with the larger community. Raghunandan Saraf, Founder and CEO, Saraf Furniture, says, “Seek out tools, mentors, and supporters to help them on a path of self-discovery and the acceptance of oneself. Keep in mind that self-care is equally important throughout this time. Concentrate on activities that make you happy and calm you, such as physical activity, meditation, or creative pursuits.”
Well, Pride month is going on, what better time to be proud and celebrate your identity? Look for events that are happening around the city and just spread the colours of the rainbow everywhere.