In minority and marginalized communities, talking about mental health is often considered a taboo or weakness. Seeking help and getting treatment for mental illness is even more stigmatized. And although many of us are now starting to break that cycle, there is a long way to go before these conversations are normalized and there is access to high-quality affordable objective safe spaces for all.
. Any marginalized person should be reminded that it is not shameful or weak; it is courageous to take the first steps in prioritizing your well-being and preventing cycles of intergenerational trauma.
Many of us live at the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. It is these intersections that make people different from the societal “norm” and it is these differences that control their interactions, their thoughts, and how people are allowed to show up in the world. People face racism, transphobia, homophobia due to pressures from society which lead to a dangerous dynamic for mental health. The multitude of oppression that comes from these layers of identities requires nuance and needs to be evaluated as such.
Understanding how we are seen in the world, how we see ourselves, and what to do when we struggle are the first steps to healing and processing old wounds.
LGBTQ people are nearly three times as likely as others to experience a mental health condition such as anxiety or a mood disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And for bisexual and transgender people, as well as those living at the intersection of multiple marginalized identifies, those numbers are even higher. Understanding how we are seen in the world, how we see ourselves, and what to do when we struggle are the first steps to healing and processing old wounds. Any marginalized person should be reminded that it is not shameful or weak; it is courageous to take the first steps in prioritizing your well-being and preventing cycles of intergenerational trauma.
1. Provide a shoulder for someone to lean on.
Minorities experience social oppression, family rejection, bullying, and harassment, or feel unsafe in their communities which ultimately affect an individual’s mental health journey and are added factors for anxiety and mood disorders. It can be incredibly isolating not knowing whether there’s someone in your corner willing to listen, love, and support you exactly as you are. The impact of a kind supportive friend or family member is immeasurable.
2. Work for equality in your community.
Breaking down the barriers minority and marginalized people face takes more than the support of friends and family. Laws and legislation must reflect the lived experiences of minorities and provide a supportive, inclusive infrastructure so that everyone is able to seek high-quality care and can feel safe in their home, work, and play environments. This requires showing up and a collaborative effort from our whole community.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead, anthropologist.
3. Share your story.
Sharing our experiences is a powerful way to chip away at the bias, discrimination, and rejection that place minority groups at high risk of compromised mental health. Although it might be nerve-wracking to put yourself out there, our stories can show others they are not alone in their struggles and that there is hope and a community to support you when things seem dark.