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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.
Therapy has so many benefits and the key to getting the most out of your therapy sessions is finding a queer-friendly therapist that works for you. Opening up about your deepest thoughts and feelings puts you in a vulnerable position, so you need to feel comfortable.
Therefore, a lot of queer people find it helpful to have a therapist that’s either queer themselves or is well versed on issues that the LGBTQ+ community can face. Let’s face it, it’s nerve-wracking enough to attend therapy, never mind wondering if they’re going to understand your identity and give you the respect you deserve.
There are lots of reasons you might feel more comfortable with a queer-friendly therapist, but how do you go about finding one? It’s not as hard as you might think, so let’s take a look.
Do Some Research
LGBTQ+ heart in open hands.
The first step is to do some research and think about what sort of therapy will be suitable for you. There are lots of different therapy types, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and psychodynamic therapy, just to name a few.
Think about what issues you want to address specifically. Doing a bit of reading on different therapy types will give you a clearer understanding of what might work best for your needs.
Each therapist will offer different approaches, so this helps to narrow the search down right away. If you aren’t sure what’s best for you, don’t worry you can still use the rest of the advice here!
Utilize Online Resources
One of the best ways to find a therapist that is LGBTQ+ friendly is to use online resources. There are some great websites that can help you find therapists near you (or an online therapist if you prefer).
The list below includes websites that allow you to filter by therapy type; the issue you want to address; gender (you might feel more comfortable with someone who shares the same gender identity as you), and whether the therapist is LGBTQ+ friendly.
- Psychology Today
- Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality (their search feature allows you to search for all types of LGBTQ+ friendly medical professionals but you can narrow it down to psychological therapy)
- Online Therapy
- The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN)
- Lighthouse LGBT
These are just a few options, there are lots more on offer. You may be able to find a local mental health center that can provide a list of local queer-friendly therapists. It’s also worth checking out mental health charity websites, as they tend to have a lot of relevant information.
Talk to Your Doctor
Sometimes talking to your regular doctor can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you have had bad experiences with doctors (a lot of us have). But it’s worth speaking up about what you’re going through if you can, as they might be able to refer you to a suitable therapist. They may even be able to give you a list of local resources that could work for you.
If you are already under the care of a mental health professional but aren’t currently receiving therapy, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and ask for what you need. Sometimes word of mouth can be best, so if you have a friend or family member who knows a good therapist that helped them, it’s worth checking out their recommendation.
Check Their Credentials
Of course, you want to ensure that any therapist you choose is appropriately qualified, so always check their credentials. You can also check their website or online listings to see if they have experience dealing with the specific issue you want to address. They’ll often list conditions they have experience treating and therapy types they’re qualified in.
Their listing may specifically state that they’re queer-friendly or have experience dealing with LGBTQ+ issues, which is always a ‘green flag’. If you want to talk about gender-related topics, check to see if this is something they mention.
Woman on phone making notes.
Once you have a shortlist of therapists that seem like they might work for you, you can start reaching out to ask questions. You can email or call them, and they’ll typically arrange an initial phone call or in-person session. This is usually a shorter session and is typically free, to help you both figure out whether you’re a good fit.
Make sure you speak up as this is your time to figure out whether this person can really help you. It’s helpful to prepare a list of questions you want to ask, in case you get flustered (it’s totally normal to feel a bit overwhelmed and nervous).
We've included a few example questions you might want to ask to help you get started if you’re feeling a bit lost:
- I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community, do you have experience working with people in my community?
- How do you make your sessions a safe, inclusive space?
- Do you have training that involves LGBTQ+/gender issues?
- Do you have experience treating ‘your mental illness’?
- What sort of approach would you take towards ‘a problem you want to address’?
Consider Other Factors
Although for many people finding an LGBTQ+ affirming therapist is crucial, for some people other factors might be more important. For example, if you have a complex mental illness, it might be more important for you to find someone highly qualified in this area even if they aren’t trained in queer issues.
Some people might prefer someone of a specific gender or someone who shares the same religion, background, or race as them. This is all completely valid – you need to figure out what is going to make you feel most at ease.
Unfortunately, costs and availability where you live can also play a part in choosing your therapist. Therapy can be pricey and tricky to access, but if you are in a position to attend therapy, it’s a fantastic investment for your mental health.
Remember You Can Keep Looking
Young woman with pride flag.
At the end of the day, therapy is all about you. It’s about you finding a professional that will support you and guide you in a way that allows you to flourish and grow as a person. Keep in mind that you are the priority here.
Even if you spend a lot of time doing research and choose a therapist that seems perfect for you, but after a few sessions you feel you aren’t clicking with them, you don’t have to continue. You can keep looking and try again.
Keep pushing and advocating for yourself until you find what works for you because you’re worth it. You deserve the right help to be the best version of yourself.
Rees SN, Crowe M, Harris S., (2021), The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities' mental health care needs and experiences of mental health services: An integrative review of qualitative studies. J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2021 Aug;28(4):578-589.
We're all clear on what we're supposed to do in order to be happy. Get the right job. Check. The right partner. Check. The right house. Check. So how come so many of us get all this stuff (or come close enough) and still can't relax and enjoy our life?
What many of us are missing is peace of mind. Unfortunately (or fortunately) this is not something you can buy in the designer department at Neiman-Marcus or build from carefully chosen lumber from Home Depot. Peace of mind means we like ourselves and we like other people; we feel safe in the world and trust ourselves.
No one I've ever met lives in such a place all the time, but we can all live here more-and-more. This column explores some ways to do so.
There are more LGBT-friendly religions around to choose from than ever-before. Religion offers you a structure in which to pursue your inner peace. It also offers a community of fellow seekers. This is no small thing: to be part of a community seeking inner peace can be powerful. For some of us, this kind of structure may be a good fit, for others, it's too constricting. If you're looking for a community to support you and with whom you can share the highs and lows of a journey towards peace, a church, mosque, temple or religious community may be helpful.
Meditation has often been portrayed as some big mysterious thing. The truth is, meditating is about being quiet and listening to yourself. Period. Your thoughts can drive you crazy - have you noticed? Meditation is simple: the hard part is just slowing down enough to do it. There are lots of different ways to meditate and there are several LGBT-friendly meditation groups here in San Diego County you can check out. The real benefit of meditation - whatever type you try - is that it helps you slow down and see what you're thinking and what's going on with you internally. This greatly increases your access to feeling peaceful and contented more of the time.
Cognitive therapy and affirmations
In some ways, cognitive therapy and doing affirmations are similar: both help you experience more peace of mind by replacing disturbing thoughts with neutral or positive ones. A simple cognitive technique is "thought replacement": you notice your thoughts, stop thinking the destructive ones and replace them with neutral or positive ones. Saying affirmations is similar: you repeat positive thoughts so they gradually replace your old, habitual negative thoughts.
What is a spiritual path and what does it have to offer? Most of us start on a spiritual path because we want a way out of our misery...we're tired of suffering. We want happiness and peace of mind. Most of my clients on a spiritual path have some sort of structure that supports their process of questioning and discovery: they may meditate, pray, go on silent retreats, etc. One good place to start on your own path is a book like Jack Kornfield's "A Path with Heart" or Pema Chodron's "The Places That Scare You." Yoga, chi gong, gardening, hiking in nature and even good ole' psychotherapy can be components of a spiritual path.
Without asking the right questions, we may foolishly believe that our happiness lies in external events or people that we cannot control. To find peace of mind we need to do inner work: it's a journey into yourself. You have your whole life to enjoy this journey, so relax. It's like growing a flower: you plant a seed, water it, care for it and allow it to unfold in its own time, or you can get out there with a knife and try to force the flower petals to open faster. Peace of mind is the same way: we plant seeds of peace and contentment, water them with prayer, meditation and whatever nurtures us, and allow it to unfold. And, when we do the work, it will...
About the Author
Michael Kimmel is a psychotherapist in San Diego, Calif. His website Life Beyond Therapy assists individuals and couples in their continued growth and development.
Different forms of therapy can offer support to work through mental health needs. Virtual therapy continues to gain popularity after a massive increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The convenience of connecting to therapy from home provides access for many with limited options. On the other hand, the neutral space of a therapist's office takes you away from daily life, offering a more focused environment.
Both virtual and in-person therapy appear poised to stick around. Face-to-face and online therapy offer unique benefits. Consider some of the pros and cons described throughout this guide to help you select the best option for you.
What Is Traditional Therapy?
Talk or traditional therapy provides mental health support through face-to-face or in-person interactions with a licensed therapist. Weekly sessions typically take place in an office setting for 45 minutes to an hour.
Research notes that psychotherapy regardless of format can reduce symptoms of depression and psychosis, making it just as effective as antidepressants.
Pros of In-Person Therapy
- Nonverbal communication: In-person sessions allow therapists to read nonverbal cues that support verbal communication. Nonverbal information can help a therapist better understand your needs.However, nonverbal information is not completely lost in video format. Seeing a client's environment with video can also offer additional nonverbal insights, but a phone session would not have this advantage.
- Neutral location: Sessions that take place in a therapist's office can provide a space away from your everyday life. A location that feels neutral can increase your comfort when sharing private information.
- Intensive support: Some mental health needs require direct, in-person therapeutic support. Art, music, and play therapy can provide effective support when used in person.
Cons of In-Person Therapy
- Cost: Rates typically do not differ much between in-person and virtual therapy, so there is no cost advantage to either format. Traditional in-person therapy can average $100 per session.
- Accessibility: Getting to and from therapy sessions can prove a significant challenge for some. Traffic, public transit issues, and commuting time adds up. Taking time away from work or other priorities can also limit access to in-person therapy.
- Timing: Long waiting periods, due to lack of availability or differing schedules, might force a delay to begin sessions with a new therapist.
What Is Online Therapy?
Online therapy, also called teletherapy or virtual therapy, provides mental health support from any location. Some forms of online therapy include texts, emails, phone calls, and video services.
Therapists may offer virtual options directly through their personal practice. Online platforms also provide opportunities for individuals to connect to therapists within their networks. Virtual therapy appears equally effective as in-person therapy for treating mental health needs.
Pros of Online Therapy
- Cost: Therapists who join virtual therapy networks might offer cheaper monthly rates when booking multiple sessions at a time. However, while the company might promise increased access to a therapist at lower weekly or monthly rates, prices might eventually go up.
- Convenience: With virtual options like texting and emailing, you can connect with a therapist from virtually anywhere at any time. Online services provide access to therapeutic support quickly and with little hassle.
- Easy access: Online options provide easier access to therapeutic support for those with difficulties commuting to in-person therapy sessions. Connecting virtually can also lower social anxieties associated with sharing physical spaces with others.
- Reduced stigma: No one needs to know about your therapy sessions. You can choose to remain anonymous through online therapy networks, and no one can see you heading off to a therapy session unless you want them to.
Cons of Online Therapy
- Internet reliant: Video conferencing comes with the added pressure of you and your therapist relying on an internet connection. One or both of you may lose service, interfering with your ability to connect when desired or needed. This should be discussed with your therapist on how this situation will be handled if internet service is lost.
- Limits to care: Some more serious mental health conditions may require an in-person session. Therapists may find limits to effective care options. Also, those who supplement their income by joining a virtual therapy network can sometimes become burned out, leading to lower quality of care.
- Communication restrictions: Text and email communications can limit the depth of understanding between you and your therapist. Without body language and nonverbal cues, communication can feel limited. Also, patients should not assume a therapist is available 24/7 virtually.
Online Therapy vs. Face-to-Face
Online and face-to-face therapy options allow more people to access mental healthcare than ever before. Whether virtual or in person, you can find the type of support that works best for you.
Online therapy offers the ability to connect with a therapist from the comfort of your own home. Face-to-face therapy allows you to bring your mental health needs to a supportive yet neutral space.
In addition to making sure a therapist can support your needs, in-person therapy may require some extra work. Does commuting to a therapist's office fit your schedule? Can your schedule remain flexible to accommodate your therapist's in-person availability?
Online therapy may require that you investigate the privacy policies on video and messaging platforms to secure your information. Encryption services provide security for your communications, but therapists may use a variety of platforms offering different levels of security.
How to Find Help
Your mental health needs should guide your selection of therapy options. Consider making your own list of pros and cons to help guide your thinking. Explore some of the resources below to find the right one for your needs.
Resources for Finding Therapy
This site offers in-person and online therapy options for those needing financial support.GoodTherapy
Find therapists, mental health centers, and other treatment options through a directory of licensed professionals.NeedyMeds Low-Cost Mental Health Clinics
Search for free, low-cost, and sliding-scale medical clinics with therapists who support individuals with mental health, substance use, and other healthcare needs.Better Help Online Therapy Network
Licensed therapists are available for virtual therapy mental health support.Give an Hour
Volunteer mental health professionals offer free services to military veterans, people affected by natural disasters, and those affected by COVID-19.Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Search a database of mental health providers treating substance use issues and mental health needs.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Government-funded health centers provide low-cost therapy options for patients with and without insurance.Allwell Behavioral Health Services
Telehealth options are available for emergency care, ongoing therapy, and additional support services.Psychology Today Therapist Search
Find a therapist offering online and in-person therapeutic support across the country.
This article was supplied by Psychology.org.