Supporting LGBTQ+ mental health

By Tiffany Todd, LSW

Educate yourself: Learn about the experiences, challenges, and terminology related to the LGBTQ+ community. Understanding their unique struggles and experiences will help you empathize and support them better.

Listen actively: Create a safe space for your loved one to express themselves without judgment. Allow them to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences openly. Active listening involves giving your full attention, maintaining eye contact, and validating their emotions.

Validate their identity: Acceptance and validation are vital for mental well-being. Recognize and respect their gender identity or sexual orientation. Use their preferred pronouns and name, and avoid questioning or dismissing their identity.

Offer emotional support: Let them know you are there for them and provide emotional support. Encourage them to share their feelings and concerns. Offer reassurance, empathy, and understanding. Remind them that their feelings are valid and they are not alone.

Respect their privacy: Allow your loved one to disclose their identity at their own pace. Respecting their privacy and confidentiality is important. Avoid outing them without their consent, as it can be emotionally distressing.

Advocate for their rights: Stand up against discrimination and support LGBTQ+ rights. Be an ally by speaking out against homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of bigotry. This shows your loved one that you are actively supporting their well-being and fighting for their rights.

Encourage community involvement: Help your loved one connect with the LGBTQ+ community. Encourage them to participate in support groups, social activities, or events where they can meet like-minded individuals. This can provide a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation.

Be patient and understanding: Remember that everyone’s journey is unique, and it may take time for your loved one to fully embrace their identity or work through their challenges. Patience, understanding, and unconditional love are essential.

Seek professional help if needed: If your loved one is struggling with their mental health, encourage them to seek professional support. LGBTQ+-friendly therapists or counselors can provide specialized assistance in navigating the challenges they may face.

Take care of yourself: Supporting someone else’s mental health can be emotionally draining. Make sure to prioritize your own self-care and seek support from friends, family, or support groups if needed. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to support your loved one effectively.

Remember, each individual’s needs may vary, so it’s important to communicate openly and respectfully with your loved one to understand how best to support them.

Please reach out to use here at InnerVoice Psychotherapist & Consultation in Chicago, IL and Skokie, IL.