Kaiser Permanente launched a national effort to reduce stigma and increase public understanding of mental health as part of overall health. As part of this campaign, they have funded collaborations with local community organizations. The San Mateo County Pride Center was just awarded a grant for a second year to continue our work to reduce mental health stigma!
LGBTQ+ people often deal with a dual stigma. We must confront stigma and prejudice based on our sexual orientation or gender identity while also dealing with the societal bias against mental health conditions. Many people report having to hide their sexual orientation from those in the mental health system for fear of being ridiculed or rejected. Some hide their mental health conditions from their LGBTQ+ friends and family.
Our LGBTQ+ community lives with higher rates of mental health challenges, not because we are LGBTQ+, but because our society in many ways is anti-LGBTQ+. We face higher rates of violence, discrimination, rejection, isolation, and trauma which can lead to anxiety, depression, and PTSD. The Trevor Project’s 2019 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health revealed that Nearly 1 in 5 LGBTQ youth and nearly 1 in 3 transgender and non-binary youth attempted suicide in the past 12 months. We need to change this reality.
We are working to change this narrative by connecting folks to wellness services for and by queer and trans folks. We are also working to shift the culture of our county to be more inclusive through training and consultation with schools, care providers, community organizations, and local businesses. We recognize mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum and social programs like the Pride Celebration, our peer groups, and community building events bring together community to reduce stigma and build resilience. We are grateful to partner with Kaiser to expand our outreach efforts around Visibility and Mental Health Stigma Reduction.