MN LGBT Therapists Network News
20+ years of LGBT-friendly mental health networking
vol. IV, Issue 6
Want to be a featured member?
We’d love to “meet” you! This is a great opportunity for marketing your business – FREE! Contact Tamarah at 320-583-0145 or via email to be featured in the January Newsletter.
I am conducting a study exploring a strength-based model of well-being in gay men, and identifying the ways that gay men cope with homonegativity. Anyone over 18 who self-identifies as a gay man is welcome to participate. Please feel free to forward the announcement below to anyone you feel might be appropriate! Please contact Seth Christman.
Please see our website for a full listing of groups.
NAMI Minnesota is starting a NAMI Connection support group for those living in the GLBTQ community and their allies. The group will meet every Saturday beginning October 22, from 1:00-2:30 at Minnehaha Spirit of the Lakes Church , 4001 38th Avenue South , in Minneapolis . The support group will be a safe place to confront the challenges that many members of the GLBTQ communities face including low self-esteem, social isolation, stigma, discrimination, anxiety and depression. For more information, contact Kim at 763-267-5881 or Gabi at 314-800-4134.
Happy (or not so happy) Holidays
Ah, the Holiday Season… Colder weather, family gatherings, shopping… For some the season is not merry and bright, but rather points out that relationships, finances and life situations are at less than ideal conditions.
In email correspondence with Donna Fox, the Program Director for NAMI Minnesota, we chatted a little bit about the increase of issues in those who suffer with mental health, suicidal ideation and completion of suicides this time of year. Here is some helpful information from Donna:
Mental Health Issues for GLBT People
Mental illness can affect persons of any age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic status. 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 10 children lives with a mental illness. Mental illnesses are biological, and with treatment adults and children can and do recover. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is not a mental illness. However, GLBT people face unique risks to their mental health. Many face discrimination from coworkers, family members and peers, as well as society at large. Recent studies indicate that experiencing social discrimination is a strong
predictor of mental health issues.
Some studies have shown that GLBT people are 2.5 times more likely than straight people to experience mental illness. In particular, GLBT adults are more likely to report depression, panic and anxiety disorders, and substance abuse. GLBT youth are especially at risk, being 20-40% more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide, and more likely to experience anxiety and depression2. Being a GLBT person of color, or having a disability or living in poverty, means facing multiple levels of discrimination. In addition, people who both identify as GLBT and live with a mental illness face double stigma; being unable to open up in treatment or support group settings negatively impacts the therapeutic experience and recovery.
NAMI-MN's mission is to champion justice, dignity, and respect for all people affected by mental illness. Through education, advocacy, and support, we strive to eliminate the pervasive stigma of mental illness, affect positive changes in the mental health system, and increase the public and professional understanding of mental illness. NAMI-MN rejects “reparative” therapies which deny the natural diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity, and supports GLBT-affirming therapy, treatment and support groups.
NAMI-MN holds peer-led support groups for people living with mental illness, and for families, friends and loved ones of people living with a mental illness. These groups are open to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, and you are warmly welcome.
If you, your partner or a family member is experiencing a mental illness, you are not alone.
Suicidal Behavior in Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth
Prepared by, Michael J. Feldman, MD
Member, LAGCAPA (Lesbian, Gay, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists of America)
Most gay, lesbian and bisexual youth never attempt suicide and never have other serious substance abuse or mental health problems (depression and anxiety),
• Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are up to six times more likely to attempt
suicide during adolescent than their heterosexual peers.
• Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are also up to six times more likely to
have serious substance abuse or mental health problems (depression and
anxiety) that are known risk factors for both attempted and contemplated
• Even after controlling for other known risk factors, status as gay, lesbian
or bisexual may confer an independent risk for attempted suicide related
to difficulties expression a minority sexual identity in a hostile
environment permeated by anti-homosexual bias.
• Other possible social risk factors for attempted suicide include gender
non-conformity, early awareness of homosexuality, lack of social support,
school dropout, family problems, suicide attempts by friends or relatives
• Attempted suicide may be associated with sexual minority status in
young men but not young women. In other words, a homosexual
orientation may not compound the already greater risk of attempting
suicide in women compared to men.
• It is not known whether the risk for attempted suicide among sexual
minority youth varies with race or ethnicity.
• It is not known whether the increased risk for attempted suicide among
sexual minority individuals peaks between the ages of 15-25 years or
remains constant throughout the life span.
• It is not known whether sexual minority youth have an increased risk for
contemplated suicide. Although the 1989 Report of the Secretary’s Task
Force on Youth Suicide concluded that sexual minority youth may
comprise of up to 30% of completed suicides annually, there is no research
or clinical evidence that currently supports this
Suicide: Learn more, learn to help
Signs of depression and suicide risk: • Change in personality-becoming sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired,
• Change in behavior-can't concentrate on school, work, routine tasks
• Change in sleep pattern-oversleeping or insomnia, sometimes with early waking
• Change in eating habits-loss of appetite and weight, or overeating
• Loss of interest in friends, sex, hobbies, activities previously enjoyed
• Worry about money, illness (real or imaginary)
• Fear of losing control, "going crazy," harming self or others
• Feelings of overwhelming guilt, shame, self-hatred
• No hope for the future-"It will never get better, I will always feel this way."
• Drug or alcohol abuse
• Recent loss of a loved one through death, divorce, separation, broken relationship;
or loss of job, money, status, self-confidence, self-esteem
• Loss of religious faith
• Suicidal impulses, statements, plans; giving away favorite things; previous suicide
attempts or gestures
• Agitation, hyperactivity, restlessness may indicate masked depression
Don't be afraid to ask: "Do you sometimes feel so bad you think of suicide?" Just about everyone has considered suicide, however fleetingly, at one time or another.
There is no danger of "giving someone the idea." In fact, it can be a great relief if you bring the question of suicide into the open, and discuss it freely, without showing shock or disapproval. Raising the question of suicide shows you are taking the person seriously and responding to the potential of his/her distress.
If the answer is "Yes, I do think of suicide," you must take it seriously. If you would like to contact Donna or the NAMI team, you can do so at 651-645-2948, or 1-888-NAMI-HELPS, or on the web.
This is a wonderful time of year to take a moment and reflect on life. It is my hope that this letter finds each of you filled with the joy and the spirit of the season, rather than overwhelmed and stressed out with the increased work load that typically occurs this time of year for those who serve in the mental health fields.
I received a call earlier this week to the treatment center that I run by a mother who wanted to “put her son away until at least after the first of the year – we’ve got family coming and I don’t want them to see him – that’s a little too much to deal with…” This is not the first call I have received like this, and unfortunately, it will not be the last. Regardless of if it is mental health, chemical dependency – while progress is being made in the stigmas that are attached to these issues, we still have people who want to hide or not acknowledge their family members who are suffering from these diseases. The client we see in this season are not oblivious to this fact, and situations like this often add increased guilt and shame to their plight.
As our therapeutic presence is always a key factor in the care that we provide to our clients, it is vital this time of year to continue our self-care, so that we can be that calm, ready and re-assuring presence to provide the attention and additional care that our clients need at this time of year.
As I take a moment to reflect, I feel blessed and honored to work in the profession that we do. And, if you have not heard it already – I want to thank you for the gifts that you give to your clients throughout the year, and to express my respect, love and appreciation for the work that each of your brings to the field. May you all be blessed and have the happiest of holidays.