6 Ways to Support the Mental Health of Your LGBTQ Loved Ones

People marching in gay pride parade with rainbow flags

As rainbow streamers fill the air and LGBTQ representation fills the streets, June is a time to celebrate LGBTQ identity and the contributions of the queer movement. Pride is a joyful time for the LGBTQ community and allies alike. It’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to creating a more equal world. That’s why this Pride, we invite allies and supporters of the LGBTQ community — which should be everyone! — to show up for the mental health and wellbeing of their LGBTQ loved ones and the community at large.

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4 Ways Your Stomach’s Microbiome Might Impact Your Mental Health

Latex glove with petri dish

Brain chemistry, self-esteem, and personal relationships all play an integral role in your mental health. Now researchers are looking beyond these well-known factors to understand how microbial activity — specifically in your gut — impacts how you feel mentally every day.

The Human Microbiome Project started in 2007 to catalog the micro-organisms living in our body. Since then, researchers have pinpointed two million unique bacterial genes found in each human microbiome.

While there isn’t an direct connection between our stomachs and our brains, the stomach sends messages to the brain, just as the brain sends messages to the rest of the body. If the microbiome is out of balance and the neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that partially determine how you feel on a daily basis aren’t produced effectively, your mental health could suffer.

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4 Signs Perfectionism Is Holding You Back (And How to Break Free)

A man and a woman whiteboarding

4 Signs Perfectionism Is Holding You Back (And How to Break Free)” originally appeared on Fairy God Boss, an advice blog that makes it easier for you to take care of yourself.

In the business world, there are no gold stars for effort or report cards to gauge your progress.

Yet a common mistake is treating work like school. As CEO and author, Sallie Krawcheck points out:

Let’s not confuse what made us successful in school for what can make us successful in our careers.

While an honor roll mindset can translate into a drive to succeed that lands you deals and accolades, it can easily lead to workaholism and burnout. The industriousness that served you well in school may now be what’s actually hindering your productivity and professional progress.

That’s because when you hold yourself to exacting standards — as many high-achievers do — you can get caught in the trap of perfectionism.

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5 Ways Therapy Can Improve Your Sex Life

Lesbian couple kisses at sunset

The following is intended for readers 18+

If the thought of sharing the nitty gritty details of your sex life with a stranger is enough to kill your libido, well, I don’t blame you. Trust me, I remember how insanely awkward I felt the first time I bought up something sex related to my therapist!

While opening up about such an intimate topic to anyone can be awkward, coming clean about the issues you’re dealing with to a therapist can be super-beneficial to your sex life. After mustering up the courage to bring up the awkward sex talk with your therapist, you can reap big-time benefits. Here are 5 ways therapy can help improve your sex life, as told by 5 people who have experienced it first hand.

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How We View Mental Health Differently Than Our Fathers

Father with arm around son

Father’s Day is great time to celebrate the similarities that make us family, and differences that make us individuals. As kids, we looked to dad for strength and guidance in the face of life’s adversities. But who looked out for them?

For some fathers, stigma and toxic masculinity may have held them back from healing they desperately needed. In the United States, 6 million men suffer from depression. Men die by suicide over 3.5 times more than women. Yet only one in four seek help from a mental health professional.

The conversation is shifting, however, as mental health has been a highly discussed topic in 2018. The hope is that by addressing generational stigma around mental health, we can encourage men to seek the help they need. We asked our male therapists and coworkers how they view mental health differently than their fathers. Here’s what they had to say.

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MJ’s Story: Working Through Trauma of a Male Sexual Assault

Trans man standing by grey wall

My boyfriend and I lay in bed, his fingers twirling my chest hair as we talked about our plans for hysterectomies. I told him I saw the procedure as a safeguard against a worst case scenario. Hearing this, he looked so anguished, I nearly felt guilty.

“It makes me sad that you worry about that happening again” he said.

A few years ago, I told my 12-step sponsor about surviving sexual assault. He said we can’t resolve some experiences, we can only share our stories to help others realize they’re not alone. In other words, we can say, “me, too.”

Since getting sober in 2013, I’ve heard stories from several sexual assault survivors and I’ve told my own. Men don’t often discuss sexual assault or mental health, and while it’s not easy to share my story, I believe it’s crucial.

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How Therapy Got Me Through the Worst Year of My Life

Woman walking long path leading up to beach

Some years are better than others. Some of the “others” you’ll never forget because they change the course of your life forever. Last year was that year for me, and I’m still paying the price for it.

The year started off hopeful, but quickly dissolved into worry as I dealt with some physical health issues that required tests, follow-ups, and more appointments. As soon as that issue seemed to be under control, my depression, anxiety and OCD — all of which I’ve battled for half of my life — flared to levels I’d never experienced. Many days I could hardly get out bed, and I had a general sense of doom.

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Jack’s Story: My Identity In the Wake of Male Sexual Violence

Man looking forlorn

I was staying at my parents house for a summer internship before my senior year of college. It was an especially hot summer in LA, and I remember when I woke up that morning I couldn’t tell if what I was experiencing was a fever or if I had just forgotten what a real SoCal summer felt like. I remember sitting down on the toilet, looking between my legs and seeing blood. I remember thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

After one visit to my family doctor and then another to a specialist, I learned the man I had slept with the night before had left me with not one, but two treasures to remember him by: internal hemorrhoids with abrasions (the blood) and herpes (the fever). When I called to tell him, he didn’t answer. When I went to find him on the gay hook-up app where I had met him, his profile had disappeared. When I Googled his name and the hospital where he purported to work as a physician, I found nothing.

That’s the man who raped me. I don’t remember the name he gave me and I’m almost certain it was a lie, so let’s call him John R. Smith. The “R” stands for rapist.

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Why Black Men Face Greater Mental Health Challenges

A Black man bathed in red light

The emotional stoicism of Black men is something that few authors have talked about. Most notable of the few books on the topic, the author bell hooks’ work We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity discusses the lack of love and acceptance that Black men face, creating an emotional crisis.

Many men have not been told how to process and talk about their emotional experiences, furthering a sense of isolation, anger, and resentment. For these men, this creates an emotional volatility that can sometimes manifest in seeming “shut down” in relationships and friendships. At its worst, this budding resentment can manifest in outward expression of anger, aggression, and even violence. This is discussed further in Charlie Donaldson’s and Randy Flood’s book Mascupathy: Understanding and Healing the Malaise of American Manhood.

Many men (arguably most) struggle with the idea of being openly vulnerable and sharing their emotions. And for those who grew up as sensitive boys, they are often subject to ridicule and shaming for what are natural and healthy expressions of emotion. Black men face a unique challenge in that most of what is most prized about them may be their looks or bodies, but rarely ever their intellect and emotional intelligence. These things are often deemed too soft for any Black man to experience, delivering the message that if you are those things then you must change…and fast.

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