June marks the beginning of Pride Month. It is a month for the LGBTQIA+ community and allies to celebrate and welcome identities of each and every individual within the LGBTQIA+ community. Throughout the month there are many celebrations that occur including parades, picnics, concerts, and other events. Along with these events there are other ways allies can make sure they are supporting their loved ones in the LGBTQIA+ community. One way to offer support is to be educated on the mental health needs of the LGBTQIA+ community. Research shows us that individuals who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community face higher levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. 40% of transgender people have reported attempting suicide, which is a devastating and incredibly alarming statistic. Knowing these statistics, we know that it is so crucial to also learn different ways individuals can support the mental health needs of their loved ones in the LGBTQIA+ community. If you are an ally and are looking for some different ways to provide support, here are a few different things you can do.
- Respect their identity. Research shows us that affirming the identity of individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community can save lives. For example, transgender youth whose community uses their correct pronouns and their personally chosen names have a lower risk of suicide. As allies it is not our job to question our loved ones’ identities. Instead, it is important to respect, honor, and love them for who they are.
- Don’t “Out” them without their permission. If a friend or loved one opens up to you about being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, it is important to not go and go tell other individuals. You want to make sure that individual is ready to tell others whenever they are ready and that is 100% their decision. Instead, be sure to offer them your support and let them know you are there for them.
- Educate yourself. There is so much information we could all learn about the history of the LGBTQIA+ movement and issues they are facing as well. The more we educate ourselves, the more we will be able to provide support and resources.
- Know resources which are available. There are numerous resources available that address the mental health concerns of the LGBTQIA+ community. Here are a few different resources: The Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline, The LGBT National Help Center, GLSEN, and so many more.
Throughout this month, I encourage you all to learn different ways you can support your loved ones if they are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. As allies, we can be there for our loved ones to provide support, love, kindness, laughter, and resources. By doing this, we can improve our mental health and the mental health of our loved ones. Unfortunately for far too many years members of the LGBTQIA+ community have lacked support on so many levels. We can do better as allies to make sure our loved ones know just how valuable they truly are.
To members of the LGBTQIA+ community, please know you are NEVER alone. We validate your identity and who you are. Your life matters and you have such a great purpose. If for some reason you are having a difficult time believing this, please reach out to one of the resources listed above or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Katie Zimmerman, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Katie Zimmerman joined The Kim Foundation in June 2019. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and Sociology from Central College in Pella, Iowa. During her time in college, she volunteered at many non-profit organizations and took multiple sociology classes which focused on mental health. Katie’s role at The Kim Foundation includes running the social media accounts, assisting in the Youth Advisory Council, and providing mental health awareness and education to the community through A Voice for Hope and Healing presentations.