Bringing Attention Back To Health


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Health, and the way we perceive and experience it, is not as intersectional as it can be — as it should be.


Every year on April 7, we celebrate World Health Day. This year, the focus is on building a fairer, healthier world for everyone — to come together and eliminate health inequities that threaten technological advancements, widen equity gaps and disproportionately impact vulnerable and marginalized communities who already have limited access to resources and healthcare services.


Health is not a privilege, it’s a fundamental human right.




Queer Individuals and Mental Health


Health, and the way we perceive and experience it, is not as intersectional as it can be — as it should be.


Every year on April 7, we celebrate World Health Day. This year, the focus is on building a fairer, healthier world for everyone — to come together and eliminate health inequities that threaten technological advancements, widen equity gaps and disproportionately impact vulnerable and marginalized communities who already have limited access to resources and healthcare services.


Health is not a privilege, it’s a fundamental human right.


Queer Individuals and Mental Health


In the U.S., 4.5% of adults identify as queer. Within that demographic, many experience mental health struggles and use mental health services at a higher rate than their cis counterparts. Queer folks are at a higher risk of anxiety, stigma, discrimination, trauma, adversity and shame. In addition, many members of the queer community are also part of second and third marginalized communities such as BIPOC — Black, Indigenous, or People of Color — people with disabilities, minority religious groups and people of low socioeconomic status.


In order to bring attention back to queer mental health, there first needs to be a larger focus on recognizing and validating some of the specific challenges queer people face. For instance, coming out can be positive or negative for queer folks’ mental health depending on how the news is received and rejection can be difficult or traumatic whereas acceptance can be beneficial.



Photo by The Gender Spectrum Collection - VICE Media


When layered with other difficulties and traumas related to intersectional identities, the mental challenges faced by queer folks increase. It’s important to find healthcare professionals who understand these challenges, but it’s not always easy. The National Alliance on Mental Health recommends that to find a healthcare provider, queer folks should first determine what they want from a provider, find referrals from other queer individuals or queer resource centers. When making the call to the provider, ask a lot of questions that get to the root of what the healthcare professional provides.


According to Mental Health America, some mental health resources for queer folks include:


The Trevor Project


National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network

A healing justice org committed to transforming mental health for queer & trans people of color (QTPoC).


Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

A national network of educators, students, and local chapters working to give students a safe, supportive, and LGBTQ+ inclusive education.


Human Rights Campaign

America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBTQ equality. Their website has a wealth of information and resources for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies



Self-care


Over the past few years, “self-care” has become a bit of a buzzword associated with bubble baths, face masks and eating pints of ice cream in front of the TV. All of these things can, of course, be self-care if you want them to be. But sometimes self-care isn’t as glamorous. It can actually look like going to doctors, therapists and dentists; taking care of your body with nourishing foods and movement that you enjoy; drinking water, doing your laundry and tidying up your space; maintaining good hygiene, sleeping at least 8 hours, taking vitamins and necessary medications.


It’s important to bring attention back to the self because often these ideas of wellness are not the first things we think of when we think of health. It’s hard, especially now in a global pandemic, to think of our own personal health when there is a global health crisis affecting everyone. Not to mention that sometimes, this kind of self-health is inaccessible. Doctors, therapists and dentists are expensive; time to work out or do laundry and clean is a luxury; some people don’t have access to nourishing foods or clean water and there are days we just don’t have the energy to do these things and it’s okay.


You don’t have to be perfect or perfectly take care of your health every single day — no one does. It’s hard, time-consuming and a bit intimidating. The point is to sometimes check in with yourself to make sure that you are, in your own way, keeping an eye on your health and taking care of yourself, whatever that means for you. Health is not “one size fits all,” so listen to yourself and your needs.


If you’re not sure where to start, an article in Mental Health America suggests meditation, creating joyful situations, connecting with your community in some way and checking in with yourself through thoughts, journaling or sharing your experience.


Active Minds also notes that other ways to check in with your health include:

  • Clean

  • Cook or bake

  • Cross something off your to-do list

  • Exercise

  • Find a distraction such as any of the following:

  • Call a friend (and don’t talk about what’s causing you distress)

  • Create something

  • Describe your surroundings using your five senses

  • Do a puzzle

  • Do something kind for someone else

  • Focus on a single task

  • Go out to eat

  • Go to an event safely

  • Hold ice

  • Listen to music or a podcast

  • Make a list of things (cars, dog breeds, music artists, etc.)

  • Take a hot or cold shower

  • Try something new

  • Volunteer

  • Watch something funny

  • Watch TV or a movie

  • Get a massage

  • Go for a walk

  • Make art

  • Meditation

  • Mindfulness exercises

  • Play a game

  • Practice deep breathing

  • Read

  • Take a bath

  • Take a (timed) nap

  • Yoga



Global Health


One of the best ways to impact global health is by calling on leaders such as representatives, community leaders to ensure that communities who are most impacted by global health crises are at the forefront moving forward. We have to make sure that everyone has safe and healthy living and working conditions — which means paying greater attention to access to healthcare, clean air and clean water and access to nourishing foods. These are monumental goals, but they are critical to eliminating health inequities.


If you want to help, some things you can do include volunteering at your local charities and organizations that are open and safely taking volunteers. You can donate and express appreciation for professionals who promote global and personal health. If you’re in a decision-making position, keep marginalized communities in mind as you move forward with making plans and policy changes.


Health shouldn’t feel taboo. Placing a larger focus on health doesn’t just benefit us, but our communities and our world.


To learn more about sexual health, read articles from our sex-ed series or check out www.lovingright.co (pssst... you can use code "SHIFTER" for 50% off their interactive courses).