October 10th, 2021 is World Mental Health Day. With so much discussion about LGBTQ+ young people and mental health, we asked our Youth Voices to weigh in with their thoughts. From what they do to take care of and prioritize their mental health to the advice they might give to someone who is struggling, join the Youth Voices for an honest discussion about mental health.

What does mental health mean to you?

“Mental health is the lens through which everyone sees the world the way they do. Neurodiversity is an impossibly wide range, the way your mental health makes you interact with society will have a large impact on how you live through experiences whether or not you define it as unhealthy. Your brain is where all of your experience goes to be processed, and mental health is what the process turns into, ever-changing and sometimes still. It is the only window of your body you’ll ever look through. – Nico J.

What do you do to take care of your mental health?

“One of the most important things is boundaries. Making sure you know your limits is so important. Personally, when I’ve had enough, I express that I am unable to continue. I respect my boundaries and my body when they tell me to stop. Additionally, I take days to care for myself, like taking bubble baths and doing face masks.” – Cal B. (pictured below)

“One of the ways I take care of my mental health is a process of reflection, making video journals with no script in mind. In this way I talk about everything overwhelming me. This also helps me release energy when I am restless and unsatisfied with life, as I verbalize plans and aspirations nobody listens to. Sometimes I branch off and ramble, it really doesn’t matter because there is no goal other than to speak to someone who must be myself.” – Nico J.

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with mental health?

“My advice to someone is to not give up or give in. Many times we may have those bad days that we can’t digest or process. And it seems like nothing is in our control anymore. But, I would advise everyone to not give in.” – Chloe L. (pictured below)

“Ask for help! Asking other people to help you isn’t a bad thing at all. When you are unwell, it is important to connect with your circle and ask for help fulfilling needs that need to be met.” -Cal B.

Why is talking about mental health important?

“Destigmatizing mental health issues is super important, and by talking about them, it normalizes mental health issues for the public. For the longest time, it was taboo and that stigma has bled into our modern society and scares teens and young adults into silence when they need the most help. Tackling mental health issues early is much better than letting them fester.” – Cal B.

“Many people may think they’re alone or they may feel ashamed to speak about their mental health. But, it’s important that these conversations are a safe space and are normalized, because things can be dealt with and assisted sooner rather than later.” –Chloe L.

“The most pressing matter is the need to expand the resources young people, particularly young queer and trans people, are able to utilize. For those in invalidating communities, households, and schools, truly having safe spaces, support, and people you can rely on can change and save a life.” – Hailey T. (pictured below)

How does your LGBTQ+ identity, or other identities, play a role in your mental health?

“Mourning a relationship with a partner that had endured conversion therapy as a queer lover was different than anything I’ve ever experienced. It was nightmares, anger, and somber Sundays. It was Boy Erased every weekend, Troye Sivan in the car, and endless protests. But most importantly, it was asking for help. Realizing that this was a problem not just for me, but for my community as a whole, let me form life-long relationships with the people that helped me heal. It helped me learn how to love again.” – Hailey T.

“It plays a role in my mental health, mainly because I may have to deal with or face negative comments or deal with negative situations regarding my identity. And I as a person have to digest and handle these types of things, and they often can affect the mental health/wellbeing of me.” – Chloe L.

What is one way someone supported you & your mental health?

“My cat, Remor, does more than most people can do. He is there as an attentive listener, not to further our friendship by letting me talk while waiting to talk about himself. My human best friend, Beanbag, does the same thing, but with words instead of meows. A good support system is important and based on care regardless of ability.– Nico J. (pictured below)

Is there anything else you’d like to share about mental health & your experiences?

“Being all I am, I feel excluded and shamed so much of the time. Being hurt by the multiple realizations of reality is a part of the lifelong process of becoming strong. Even once you feel confident in that, you’ll have to learn more of how to cope, how to love properly and safely, everything about anything about how to handle your mind which is yourself. That is what life is, and also enjoyment, so go to sleep and try again in five hours.” – Nico J.

“For a while, I stayed silent about my struggles. But when I finally started talking about it and getting the help and connections I needed, I found out that there were measures I needed to take to better myself: therapy, medication, psychiatrist appointments, etc. I would have never known that if I hadn’t said anything, and I am now leagues better and on the path of recovering and becoming my best, healthiest self. Asking for help and prioritizing your own health is so important, even if prioritizing your health seems selfish at first, it isn’t.” – Cal B.