Mental health challenges are very common throughout an individual’s lifetime, and almost every person will face mental illness as some point. Many queer individuals may experience periods of time where they struggle with mental illness as a result of navigating their identity, discrimination, and being queer in a world that isn’t always the most accepting.

Our overall mental health is extremely interconnected with the rest of our holistic health. This is why maintaining a healthy mind in a healthy body is key. Maintaining good mental health is a balance of the physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual well-being, and it can often be strengthened by love, friendship, supports, and a sense of fitting in in your community. When we are in a good place emotionally it makes it easier to feel and express a full range of emotions and feel better equipped to tackle life’s problems.

To take care of our mental health we must care for our body and mind together. Some tips to self care include:

  • Find people to talk to.
    • Find your queer community! Many times individuals who are queer can be a very accepting, comforting, and safe space as there are often many shared experiences. Try going to local queer events, check out some queer-affirming businesses, and get connected with other queer folks! Other than the queer community, you may find great support in understanding friends, family, and community members who can provide empathy, support, and help you own your identity. In addition to or instead of family and friends, there may supportive counselling and support services in your community to lean on.
  • Eat well, sleep enough, and exercise!
    • Taking care of your body will give a solid foundation to build your emotional health. Try eating balanced meals, and fuel your body with food it needs. Getting a good night’s sleep of 8-10 hours is also key to our emotional wellness to ensure we are well rested and give our body a chance to rejuvenate to tackle our next day. Doing moderate amounts of exercise on a regular basis is something significant that you can do to build not just your muscles but also your emotional health. Studies show that exercise is effective for treating mild to moderate depression and reducing anxiety.
  • Try complimentary therapies.
    • A number of complimentary therapies can support your mental health by either treating the underlying problem or relieving symptoms of the problem. These therapies include acupuncture, light therapy, hypnotherapy, and aromatherapy.
  • Be compassionate with yourself.
    • It can be easy to be hard on yourself, and push yourself to do more, even when you’re not in a position to do so in a healthy manner. Taking time to be compassionate to yourself, give yourself permission not to do something, or to do something for yourself, and to meet yourself where you’re at can be great ways to encourage better mental health.
  • Seek professional help.
    • In addition to the support of friends, family, and other queer folks, you may also want to seek professional help. A trustworthy and supportive healthcare provider can help you navigate your emotional and physical health.
    • For a list of current queer-affirming counsellors, therapists, or psychologists in Lethbridge, please refer to our Appendix here.

It’s important to note that if seeing a therapist is unattainable for you in the current moment, there are still many free and easily accessible ways to care for your mental health! Some of our suggestions include: