Picture one of those slow motion videos of a tennis ball being hit by a tennis racquet and coiling inward before being released back to its original shape as the ball projects through the air. That’s what mental resiliency is: the ability to “bounce back” from conflict to a state of health and well-being. For some of us, this skill is challenging, but for members of the LGBTQ community, mental resiliency is particularly difficult because of the daily, constant discrimination and adversity the community faces.
Every time a member of the LGBTQ community is exposed to gay and lesbian jokes, labeling, stereotyping and verbal and physical violence, their mental resiliency is tested. Whether it’s outward displays of verbal and physical violence or subtler forms of personal and systemic discrimination, members of the LGBTQ community require mental resiliency on a much more significant level than straight individuals.
Currently, LGBTQ individuals bear the burden of their own mental resiliency, and they do it well. They strategically seek out support from family and friends who won’t judge or be critical of their sexual orientation or gender identity. They research and pick supportive workplaces, neighborhoods, clubs and organizations to build a community of like-minded individuals to decrease the sense of isolation. They find mental health outlets that can help with depression, anxiety and other emotional and psychological difficulties. And they actively seek out spiritual communities that will be accepting and supportive. But why must the work of mental resiliency fall on the victims of hate and violence? It is time for everyone to help.
You can help by taking a step back and reflecting. Be open enough to look at your own judgment or criticisms of people with different sexual orientation and gender identity. Then consider how you can best support the LGBTQ community. Try to create, in your community, supportive workplaces, neighborhoods, clubs and organizations that are inclusive of all individuals. Support mental health outlets that help with substance abuse, addictions and mental illnesses. Be a spokesperson in your religious and spiritual community for acceptance, love and support.
Read more on NAMI.org.