Happening in Nashville
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) yesterday, joined Susan Taylor, former Essence magazine editor-in-chief, and the National CARES Mentoring Movement to support a youth delegation offering testimony about the experiences of Black youth struggling with trauma, stress, and mental health-- specifically Black queer students-- at “Hearing Their Stories: Students and How They Handle Their Mental Health,” hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health.
Justin Calhoun, a senior political science major at Howard University and a member of the NBJC Youth and Young Adult Advisory Council, testified at the Capitol Hill event and talked candidly about his own experiences, as well as the importance of educators, policy makers, and medical professionals to consider the experiences of Black queer students when responding to the diverse mental health needs of the Black community.
“Black queer people face unique health disparities because of stigma, discrimination, and denial of our civil and human rights,” said Calhoun. “Because Black queer students are at greater risk for mental illness, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts greater attention must be paid to supporting us.”
He also shared his own personal story noting that the impact of oppression for being both Black and queer is a struggle that some queer folk cannot resolve on their own. “Every queer person I know has either attempted or thought about attempting suicide…" Calhoun explained to Congress members. "When I was a 12-year-old Black boy, I thought tying a noose around my neck was the only way to end my pain. Black queer students are at greater risk for mental illness, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts greater attention must be paid to supporting us.”
According to various studies, when compared to people that identify as straight, queer individuals are three times more likely to experience a mental health condition and two-and-a-half times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance misuse. Discrimination against queer people is associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. Queer youth are also four times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, and engage in self-harm, compared to straight youth.
“The NBJC is proud of the work we lead to ensure that the needs of youth who have the double gift of being both Black and LGBTQ/SGL are considered and addressed,” said David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition. “Too often conversations about Black people, and Black students, ignore the reality that as long as there have been Black people there have been Black LGBTQ/SGL people.
Johns also sites some critical statistics. “Black LGBTQ/SGL students face unique challenges that I have spoken about before the Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health," said Johns. LGBTQ/SGL youth experience violence and bullying nearly twice as much as children who are or are presumed to be heterosexual. 74 percent of LGBTQ/SGL students report feeling unsafe, bullied, and harassed in schools throughout the country according to GLSEN. LGBTQ/SGL students are five times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers.”
“Black students need the support most but are not seeking it," testified one of the students, Mei-Ling Ho-Shing, an 18-year-old graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived the infamous and tragic shooting there. "A lot of my high school classmates wouldn’t go get help after the mass shooting, because of the stigma within the Black community against acknowledging mental health needs and seeking help to manage their mental health challenges. We need you and other leaders to help educate our community and let us know that it’s not only acceptable to seek mental health support, it’s necessary.”
In May, the NBJC helped launch the CBC Taskforce, chaired by Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), with policy experts and mental health practitioners who are focused on educating Congress members about this mental health crisis and identifying solutions and legislative recommendations. The Taskforce continues to convene experts in Washington, DC, and around the country.
“We are honored to support Youth and Young Adult Advisory Council member Justin Calhoun in providing color to the experiences of Black LGBTQ/SGL youth,” said Johns. "Justin has served as an intern at the National Black Justice Coalition and president of CASCADE, the LGBTQ student group at Howard University, and he is a brilliant and compassionate advocate who has already helped improve policies and practices to ensure that schools and communities are more inclusive, safe and supportive of all Black people."
Click here for more mental health-related coverage.
It's been quite a year and we're only halfway through 2022. The pandemic is still ongoing, LGBTQ+ rights are under threat, money struggles are prevalent, and that’s just to name a few issues. In the midst of all this, it’s hard not to feel anxious. Understand that your feelings are valid and so we put together this handy guide for mental health apps.
Dr. Jack Turban, MD, MHS, a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine researches the mental health of transgender youth. He explains that during the pandemic the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth has been declining. He says, “For instance, the Trevor Project crisis line for LGBTQ+ youth has seen a surge in volume.”
If you’re struggling, know that you aren’t alone. Seeking help may be a difficult step to take, but it’s a necessary one. Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there that can help you find support and affirmation.
How Can Mental Health Apps Help?
Mental health apps are a low-cost, accessible way to receive instant help for your struggles. While they aren’t a replacement for professional care, they have various functions to promote mental wellness, such as sleep reminders, calming music, and even mood trackers. Some apps also have teletherapy services, where you can communicate with a licensed specialist to get started with treatment.
“One of the most important parts, and beautiful parts when used correctly, is that digital mental health tools and the internet in general, create a space for connections. [Mental health apps] are beneficial because they can help remove some of the possible barriers LGBTQ+ individuals deal with in less accepting environments. Hopefully, they can access such tools without someone standing in their way or being gatekeepers that bar their path to better health”, says Dr. Chase Anderson, MD, MS, a child psychiatry fellow at the University of California San Francisco.
Five Mental Health Apps
Mental Health Apps
Below is a list of five mental health apps that can help to make your life a little easier.
1. Ayana Therapy
Ayana is an app that helps people from marginalized communities find a therapist they can identify with based on their unique experiences and identities across race, gender identity, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and ability. This on-demand app allows for flexible communication across convenient platforms (text, phone, and video call) to get in touch with your LGBTQ+ therapist whenever you need to.
2. Pride Counseling
This is an online counseling program for the LGBTQ+ community, led by specialized mental health professionals. Through the app, you can conveniently get in touch with a licensed specialist through live chat in addition to booking weekly scheduled appointments. Pride Counseling also offers need-based financial aid to make counseling affordable.
Sowlmate is an LGBTQ+-focused self-care app with a wide library of interactive courses and meditation sounds designed by LGBTQ+ professionals. A key feature of this app is the AI-based mood tracker, where the data is used to showcase content tailored to your individual needs. New programs are released every week on the platform.
4. Trill Project
This is an anonymous, social network where you can freely express yourself. Through the app, you can share your deepest, unfiltered thoughts and build authentic conversations with other members of the LGBTQ+ community. There is also tons of content focused on LGBTQ+ issues and mental health for users to discover and share.
Wisdo is a peer-to-peer support platform to connect with people who’ve walked your path and share your own helpful advice. In the app, there are live sessions from mentors and virtual communities focused on discussing LGBTQ+ issues. You can also easily have private conversations with people you guide or learn from.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741, or visit www.SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.com for additional resources.
If you are an LGBTQ+ young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the Trevor Lifeline immediately at 1-866-488-7386.
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A gay cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.
Without any surprise, one of the most commonly determined goals for this year is to be happier. It doesn’t matter what you secretly want, such as to lose a couple of pounds, build up your muscles or find the love of your life – the ultimate goal of every single one of us is the same – to be happy.
After all, anything that we want from life, we want so that it could bring us happiness. But happiness will not come to whomever, as every person needs to work hard and think long about all the things that make them happy and actually earn that happiness. The end of every year is the perfect time to start thinking about that, to reflect on the previous year, see the negative points that you never want to repeat again and then see what the aspects you need to focus on more are. Take a look at some of the ideas that will help you become a happier gay man in the next year.
Who cares what others have
The first and most important piece of advice would be to be who you are, but since this is as cliché as it can get, let’s say that the first thing to do is not to compare yourself with other gay people. This is something that can create so many different issues – first of all, with your self-confidence and image which can have a big effect on your life, and secondly, it can affect your relationship with other people. There are certain things that are always “expected” from gay men, such as having abs, being very handsome, having crystal clear skin or dressing up in the latest fashion. Well, be who you are and never try to be someone else so that you can stand out. This is the most important tip you should follow as this is the only way you will truly be happy.
Make yourself a routine
Creating a routine for yourself and having activities that you enjoy doing on a daily basis is an essential thing for your happiness. What is important to know is that your habits create your mood, and the more interesting habits you have, the happier you will be. It is always a good thing when you get to come home from work and have certain things that you can get up to. However, it would be good that your routines in 2020 revolve around everything that is natural, healthy and organic. So, buying yourself a gym membership or taking up a sport are two great ideas. If you want to be bolder, you can always hit the best kratom shop and turn to natural products that will make your daily routine much more pleasant, and you happier. Remember that this doesn’t have to necessarily be a daily routine that you have to create, but rather have several things that you like doing and can do from time to time when you want to feel better.
You are enough for you
Next up, we should turn to one of the biggest issues of unsatisfied people – the fact that they’re single. Now, not all single people are unsatisfied, but the majority of people feel dissatisfaction once they have nobody by their side, which is one of the traits they definitely have to change. You do not need anyone else to tell you are perfect or amazing or pretty or beautiful, you do not need anyone so that you could feel validated. What you can do is spice things up, and if you are a sexual being, you can always find someone to spend several hot nights with. However, if you are looking for a relationship, you need to start with yourself and stop feeling sorry for yourself because you are single. This is what shows, and nobody wants to hit on someone who has a lot of negativity going on.
Socialize with positive people
Photo by Ba Phi from Pexels
There’s nothing that works better for your own happiness than surrounding yourself with people that you love and people who are positive (obviously, you get the most of it when you combine these two and spend time with people who are both positive and very important to you). In 2020, it would be best to ditch negativity and leave it behind – even though it might be difficult, limiting the time you spend with negative people can definitely do wonders for your own mood and overall state of happiness.
Finally, focus on yourself. It is 2020, so whatever you choose to do for your own well-being is definitely not something you should be embarrassed about. If yoga is something that is going to calm you down, take your stress away and thus make you a generally less unsatisfied person – so be it. You can also turn to meditation or simply spending time with your friends and laughing. Laughter is also one of the strongest remedies. You know what they say – when life gives you lemons, make a lemonade. Beyoncé made it and it’s the best album of the decade.
Hopefully, you will be a better person in 2020. After all, it doesn’t matter what you do and how others perceive you – if you like yourself, that’s what matters. So, make the following a New Year’s resolution – love yourself.