Mental and Emotional Health

“Without mental health we cannot be healthy,” states the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental and emotional health affects our wellness and wellbeing every single day, and for LGBTQA folks, achieving this goal can be complicated. Prejudice and discrimination can often challenge a positive and comfortable self-image, and restoring a broken one involves continual effort. Because we recognize these struggles, and because we honor and respect your gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, the Student Health and Wellness Center wants you to know about resources that can help you realize your most confident, empowered self.

Understanding Mental and Emotional Health

Body Image

Looking in the mirror and feeling satisfied with the reflection is something that never comes easily. Finding a healthy body image is a process, not a given. Challenges with body image affect people across all cultural lines and boundaries, but for LGBTQ people, these challenges can be greater. Sometimes they are so common for LGBTQ people that they even seem normal. Any time we bend society’s rigid standards, we can fall into self-doubt, self-loathing, and an overall unhealthy self-image. But an unhealthy body image can be the result of many factors. The important thing to know is that body image concerns are both legitimate and widespread, in the LGBTQ community and beyond. They do not reflect a personal weakness, but rather a condition that can be addressed in many ways. Often this starts with identifying the triggers and factors behind it. If you find yourself struggling to find a positive body image that lets you lead a happy, healthy life, we want you to know that there are multiple resources available. There are websites with vast information, and there are individuals you can speak to in person. Hopefully you find something helpful below.

Bullying and Abuse

Bullying and abuse can be constituted by actions and gestures both small and large, direct and indirect, subtle and profound. In no circumstance should they ever be tolerated. And in no circumstance should the feelings they produce be discounted or invalidated. Your feelings are always legitimate, and your safety and well-being are always of vital importance. What is important to know is that feelings of doubt, despair, anxiety, fear, depression, loneliness, hopelessness, and especially self-harm are always worth discussing early and honestly with a trusted confidant or trained expert. No matter what, these feelings are not your fault. Above all, you are never alone and never out of options. Below are some resources and guides which may only be effective in early stages of conflict or pain. Remember that there are always people to turn to, and that talking about your feelings in person can be an invaluable therapy. If you are ever in an emergency situation you cannot turn back from, or one in which you are in imminent states of serious danger or violence, call 9-1-1 without hesitation.

Substance Abuse

It is true that substance abuse problems can be closely tied to mental and emotional health, but sometimes they might not be. What is important to know is that substance abuse is a chronic illness, as much as high blood pressure or diabetes. As well, there are multiple components which influence it, including genetic, physiological, environmental, and social. While substance abuse affects people of all identities and in all circumstances, it can have particular prevalence in LGBTQ communities due to social components that injure the mental and emotional health crucial to preventing and dealing with substance abuse. Ultimately, you should know that these struggles are neither a personal or moral failing. Instead, the more we learn about it, the more we understand that it is a disease of the brain. Below are some resources for understanding the difficulties of substance abuse and some strategies for preventing them.