Celebrating Pride Month is about promoting acceptance and equality. It is also a time dedicated to recognizing the significant contributions of LGBTQIA+ individuals and championing equal justice and opportunities for all.

This month we’re featuring a conversation between our Chief Growth Officer Ami Campbell and her daughter, Helen, who is a part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Ami: Helen, can you please share a little about your mental health journey?

Helen: I struggle with depression and have been in therapy for over ten years. I came out in 2016 when I was 16 years old.

Ami: According to The Trevor Project’s 2023 survey, 41% of LGBTQIA+ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, roughly double the national average. What do you think drives this difference?

Helen: I’m not well researched in this area, but I can comment on my own experience. Although there has been a lot of progress, there is still fear in coming out. Fear and anxiety go hand in hand. If you combine that with the shame that comes for a lot of us in the LGBTQIA+ community, you get mental health difficulties.

Ami: You mentioned progress. What progress have you experienced in the nearly ten years since you came out?

Helen: There are more resources available now, but those resources are often undeveloped and underfunded, and far more accessible in some places than others.

Ami: What would you say to someone who wants to support the creation of more resources?

Helen: It’s important to consider both mental health and LGBTQIA+ community resources. I think the development of in-person groups is so important. There are a lot of online communities, but we all know the value of in-person connection.

Ami: Reflecting on your own journey, what supports have you found most valuable?

Helen: It’s a combination of family, friends, and professional support. The same survey you mentioned showed that only 38% of LGBTQIA+ young people found their home to be affirming. Living in an unsupportive environment can be detrimental to mental health, and it discourages coming out. The first coming out experience can be formative: how well that goes can determine a person’s attitude toward coming out to anybody in the future.

With the right friends you can find people that understand and empathize in a way that family and professionals often won’t be able to. We all know from experience that it is lonely to believe you are the only one who feels the way you do.

Even with friends and family behind me, my mental health challenges required professional support. Professional support comes back to accessibility, and I was very fortunate to live in an area and have the means to access the support I needed. There are many situations where it is hard to find a therapist or where therapy is not affordable.

I’d like to turn your question back to you. As a parent, what support have you seen be valuable?

Ami: Like you, I found it helped knowing I wasn’t alone. Having friends whose kids also struggled and tapping into their knowledge and resources was invaluable. I also found individual and family therapy to be helpful and hopeful.

Speaking of hope, what do you hope Pride Month achieves for the youth LGBTQIA+ community?

Helen: I hope Pride Month encourages a culture of understanding where we can all respect each other regardless of identity.

Josselyn provides therapy, psychiatry, case management, and other mental health services to people of all ages and identities. We currently offer a youth LGBTQIA+ support group for clients. Click here to get started with services.

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