Part 1: Manifestation of Mental Health in members of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities

by Kole Lawrence (he/him), Counseling Program Specialist at QMUNITY

Trigger Warning: The theme and content of this webpage includes references to mental health, depression and suicide.

May is Mental Health Awareness month, which aims to start a conversation and break the stigma around mental health. QMUNITY will be releasing a four part blog series on different topics related to mental health. First up is manifestations of mental health. 

It is well-documented that queer, gender-diverse and Two-Spirited individuals are more likely to experince symptoms of poor mental health such as depression, anxiety, and suicidiality. A primary reason for this is that most societies cultivate stigma/shame, prejudice and victimization against/of these oppressed groups. It is important to acknowledge this and recognize the ways in which mental health manifests.

Psychological well-being is very personal. It’s impossible to know the state of that person’s mental health by just taking into account their appearance. Mental health does not always manifest in ways that are visible or recognizable to others.

Mental health does not always manifest in ways that are visible or recognizable to others.

How Good Mental Health Can Manifest

Good mental health manifests itself in different ways. Some people describe their experience of good mental health as an experience akin to:

  • Feeling bright or uplifted
  • A sense of love or contentment
  • Some people report feeling “less in their heads” 
  • Positive emotions, like joy, gratitude, awe, serenity, inspiration, curiosity and hope often contribute to positive well-being. 
  • Feel confident about ourselves or the future

These may all be signs of good mental health, but it varies for everyone. Mental health is not static, people can feel conflicting feelings at the same time. Just as it is important to know the signs of poor mental health, it is equally important to recognize and celebrate good mental health! 

How Poor Mental Health Can Manifest:

In some ways, poor mental health is easier to pinpoint. Many people are comfortable with the simple definition: when our mental health is not what we would want it to be. We experience poor mental health when we are in some way experiencing struggles or challenges, which can be brought on by negative emotions like fear, anger, disgust, loneliness, sadness, shame or guilt. 

On the other hand, poor mental health can be indicated by things like 

  • worrying more
  • constantly feeling overwhelmed
  • changes in regular habits and routines
  • generally feeling less and less excited about normal daily activities
  • finding it hard to make decisions
  • feeling overwhelmed by things

What to do When Poor Mental Health Manifests: 

How we “flip the script” and change our sense of well-being from negative to positive varies hugely person-to-person. Importantly, what is always necessary is the capacity to recognize when we are in a position of poor psychological well-being. In other words, we have to identify our sense of suffering.

Some individuals find value in the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach, where you make yourself do the things you think you would do if you were actually feeling a strong sense of positive mental health. It is also important to keep in mind that flipping the script is easier for some individuals than it is for others, and that nobody should ever feel blame for their suffering.

The first step is to recognize your own manifestations of mental health. From there, it is always important and valuable to reach out for help and find tools that can support you.

Lastly, connecting with your peers – and in particular, with folks who share similar experiences to yours – can make a world of difference in finding safe space to relieve thoughts, find common ground, 

For more information on mental health please visit: https://qmunity.ca/mentalhealth/ 

For information on QMUNITY Programs & Services please visit: https://qmunity.ca/programs-services/

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