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LGBTQ+ Mental Health & Community Resources

June 24, 2020

Sheri Tiziani, LCMHCS, Primary Therapist

During Pride Month, we are particularly celebrating the strength and success of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) clients. HopeWay is proud to be a safe and welcoming resource for the LGBTQ+ community in Charlotte and across the nation.

"I mainly came to HopeWay to work on my OCD and anxiety. While I was there, Art Therapy really allowed me an opportunity to open up about my identity. It helped me explore why I should be proud of who I am and where I am as a trans person. Art Therapy was super impactful for me. After leaving HopeWay, I created an art website for LGBTQ and neurodiverse people." – Kailas (former client)

Mental health is a state of psychological wellbeing that impacts all humans. It involves how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life, how we manage stress; interact with others, and how we make life decisions. 

Members of the LGBTQ+ community often suffer from poorer overall mental health compared to heterosexuals and may:

  • have to cope with stigma, discrimination, or violence;

  • have negative feelings about themselves because of their sexual orientation or gender identity;

  • feel isolated or lonely; or

  • feel that they must hide their sexual orientation or gender identity.

While every person’s experience is different, some of the most common mental health concerns are depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse and thinking about or attempting suicide.

As a primary therapist at HopeWay, I have gained valuable insight about the unique struggles of the LGBTQ+ community and how HopeWay can offer support and make a difference. Through my experience working with this community, I have seen how incredibly strong and resilient LGBTQ+ individuals are as a result of navigating a world of set norms and expectations. They experience significant hardship and often trauma. The trauma-informed treatment we incorporate at HopeWay is grounded in approaches that are sensitive to these difficult experiences in order to restore a sense of trust and safety in the therapeutic relationship. 

Self-acceptance and self-compassion are often replaced by self-deprecation and self-harm. The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) we utilize supports individuals to challenge negative core beliefs and critical self-talk, all of which may have developed through their experiences over time. CBT works to restore self-care and compassionate practices. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and in particular distress tolerance skills, encourage healthy coping mechanisms to replace self-harm and increase safety. 

LGBTQ+ clients often bear the intense burden and shame of secrets they feel the need to keep from those who won’t accept them as they are. Our self-awareness groups encourage individuals to be aware of shame triggers and “shields” they put up for protection. Groups help a person identify signs they are using these shields, explore their counterproductive nature and learn how to replace shields with healthy coping mechanisms.

Above all, LGBTQ+ people want a place to feel safe, seen and heard for who they are, not for who others believe they should be. They are often deprived of and crave affirmation and connection with others. Group therapy, which HopeWay provides, is often the kind of healing environment that is most effective when one feels isolated in their personal life. I can attest to HopeWay’s team of therapists who offer excellent quality of care, genuine compassion, and affirming connection. I have witnessed numerous LGBTQ+ clients coming to HopeWay in search of healing and affirmation with amazing outcomes and recoveries back into their lives.

(Medley 2016)

Sources:

https://www.vumc.org/lgbtq/lgbtq-focus-mental-health

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

LGBTQ+ Resources:

National and local to Charlotte, NC

An organization geared towards helping youth between 11 – 20 years old.

An advocacy and education organization.

An organization that has chapters all over the country offering support, education and advocacy.

A directory of AA & NA groups specific to LGBTQ+ individuals.

A 24/7 crisis line for youth.

An organization providing free peer-support and local resources.

 

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Editor’s note: This blog post is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.