Part 2: External Factors of Mental Health for 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.

It’s really important to remember that our mental health is a product and reflection of factors that are both internal and external to each of us.

We’re often taught to focus on the internal factors that lead to poor manifestations of mental health. It is important to note, that internal factors alone are not the sole factor in mental health manifestations. Internal factors can be things like depression, or anxiety. An internal factor can be a behaviour that is prohibiting us from reaching a desired goal. For instance, if we want to improve our sleep quality so that we’re less groggy each day, then drinking copious amounts of caffeine in the evening might be an internal factor of less-than-optimal mental health. However, it’s important to consider the external factor of this manifestation, as well. Perhaps too heavy a workload is incentivizing an individual to be productive well into the night, which might explain the caffeine intake and poor sleep pattern. While we should aim to be mindful of the ways in which our behaviours predict certain life outcomes, we should also be critical of how external factors influence our mental health, both in a good and bad way. 

External factors are things that are out of our control.

This year, queer, gender-diverse and Two Spirit people will experience an inproportinate amount of poor mental health manifestations (e.g. depression) compared to their straight, cisgender and White counterparts. When we think of external factors that typically affect mental health, we often think of things like:

  • Our social networks
  • Work-life balances
  • Intimate relationships
  • Our hobbies (or lack of)
  • Family/peer acceptance 
  • Our financial situation 
  • Access to healthcare

Many of these factors have a great likelihood to negatively affect our mental health, For example, trans youth with the least accepting families were more than three times as likely to consider and attempt suicide compared to those with highly accepting families (Ryan, 2010). Sometimes we end up thinking that when a problem is external that we can’t do anything about it. While we can’t control the world around us, we can learn to decide how external factors affect us. 

One way to do this is by using the acronym RAIN (Brach, 2017). 

Recognize the feeling that we’re being thrown into when we encounter a (negative) external factor.

Accept this feeling; after all, we didn’t choose this factor, or the feeling that accompanied it.

Investigate this feeling. In other words, look for how this feeling feels in our body. Can we feel it in the back of our neck?

Nonidentification of this feeling. Basically, we want to remind ourselves that when we look closely at our feelings, we actually create distance between us and it.

A complete awareness of mental health, requires an understanding that personal mental health is tied to the external world & factors. Members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community often have increased negative external factors that impact their mental health. Although we cannot always change these external factors, we can equip ourselves with tools to help cope and process them.

For more information on mental health please visit: 

For information on QMUNITY Programs & Services please visit:

Work Cited

Brach, T., Brach, T., Dawson, V., O’Leary, W., Smookler, E., Whitney-Coulter, A., Naidoo, U., Staff, M., & Kira M. Newman and Janet Ho. (2022, January 19). Feeling overwhelmed? remember rain. Mindful. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from
Ryan, C., Russell, S. T., Huebner, D., Diaz, R., & Sanchez, J. (2010). Family acceptance in adolescence and the health of LGBT young adults. J Child Adolesc Psychiatr Nurs, 23(4), 205-213. doi:10.1111/j.1744- 6171.2010.00246.x

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