As the Colorado Spirit Team at AllHealth Network considers how we can be of service to our community over the coming months, we have reflected on how members of our community are differently impacted by the pandemic. While early on in the pandemic, there were a lot of messages about how “we are all in this together,” the reality is while we are all living through a pandemic, we do not all have the same access to resources, support, and care. We also know that not seeing one’s self represented in society takes a toll on well-being. I have found myself reflecting on my past work as a therapist and the number of times I connected with people who have not felt seen and heard by their loved ones, friends, and support systems and how much this added suffering to the pain so many people were experiencing.
One way we at Colorado Spirit think we can be of service is to spread the message that no one is alone and there are people, systems, and resources to support you during the pandemic. This can get complicated though when we acknowledge that sometimes these resources and systems are not trauma-informed and safe spaces for people who identify as LGBTQ+.
As we come to the end of Pride Month, we wanted to take a moment to share a few resources both for individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ and for those who want to be effective supports.
The Trevor Project 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ youth mental health shows just how heavy a toll the pandemic is taking. After surveying nearly “35,000 LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 24,” they found that “42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.” Additional findings ranged from youth reporting their “mental health was ‘poor’ most of the time or always during the pandemic,” to difficulty accessing mental health services, to food insecurity- there was impact! A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found “LGBT people have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic differently than non-LGBT people” including adverse mental health and economic impact.
While we know there is no one size fits all solution, we did want to offer a few behavioral health resources that specialize in supporting those who identify as LGBTQ+.
- The Trevor Project offers numerous crisis support options and peer-to-peer support groups for LGBT youth.
- The Center on Colfax offers a wide range of supports including safe spaces and social supports for youth at Rainbow Alley, older adults through SAGE of the Rockies, and a Transgender Program.
- The Transgender Center of The Rockies offers individual and group counseling services and peer-led support groups.
- The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network lists multiple community resources on their webpage.
We want to share some resources for those looking to be a support. While this list is just a short offering of suggestions, we hope it will start you thinking and talking about how you might be able to show up for those you care about and are connected with.
- Create a LGBTQ+ affirming environment – The Trevor Project survey referenced above found that LGBTQ youth who had access to spaces that affirmed their sexual orientation and gender identity reported lower rates of suicide attempts. While this study is specific to youth, we think creating affirming environments is supportive regardless of age! Actions like using inclusive language, knowing correct terminology when talking about gender and sexual orientation (check out this information from The Trevor Project to get you started), and using visuals like this one from the American Counseling Association and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation are concrete steps we can all take to create inclusive spaces.
- Connect – We have talked about this over and over in our posts. Connection with others helps all of us tap into our resiliency. Reach out to maintain connections and speak up if you are worried about someone. Envision You offers a few suggestions about how to have conversations with folks you might be concerned about.
Take action – There are many systemic issues that create inequity. Advocacy work, legislative changes, volunteering, and financial support to agencies that serve LGBTQ+ communities are ways we can work to address inequities and support our community.
If speaking to someone would help, please reach out.
AllHealth Network provides several supports:
- To speak with someone in the Colorado Spirit Program about stress related to the pandemic, please call 720-707-6789 or visit our webpage at allhealthnetwork.org/Colorado-Spirit
- For information about other services at AllHealth Network or to get connected with ongoing behavioral health support, please call 303-730-8858. AllHealth Network is continuing to provide service via telehealth or by phone and our Crisis Walk-in Center remains open 24/7.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and are in need of immediate assistance, please call the Colorado Crisis Hotline at 1-844-493-8255 (TALK) or text TALK to 38255.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook to receive information about our free groups and get notifications when we post coping tips, mindfulness suggestions, and more.