By Jennifer Derwin, LMSW.
May is National Mental Health Month and we asked the folks from Newaygo County Mental Health to provide us with a series of articles to help promote awareness of the resources available for those seeking help. In this piece clinician Jennifer Derwin provides some insight about the issues facing LBGT people living in rural areas.
Here are the two previous pieces.
Up North Michigan is beautiful this time of year, the birds chirping, the river flowing, peepers at night and beautiful sunsets. Rural Michigan is a great place to live, grow up and raise a family. But, it can be a struggle for those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, or Transgender (LGBT). We often overlook that LGBT people live in rural communities. Being LGBT doesn’t mean you want to go live in a big city, especially if this is your home. LGBT people are drawn to rural areas for many of the same reasons as their heterosexual counterparts; being close to family, a tight knit community and connection to their history. But it can be difficult. LGBT people in rural areas face many hurdles, such as discrimination, access to appropriate health care, threats and fear of being “outed.”
LGBT people in rural areas do not have the same access to resources as those in big cities. Luckily, that is slowly changing. Many rural areas are starting their own LGBT Pride groups. Traverse City and Marquette both have groups. And closer to home, Ferris State University in Big Rapids, recently started a LGBTQ Resource Center that welcomes students and community members.
Having these resources available and having people who are “ally’s” to those in the LGBT community is important. According to The Trevor Project National Survey Results of 2019, “39% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and non-binary youth having seriously considered. 71% of LGBTQ youth reported feeling sad or hopeless for at least two weeks in the past year.” (https://www.thetrevorproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/The-Trevor-Project-National-Survey-Results-2019.pdf.
LGBT people face the same mental health illnesses as their heterosexual counterparts such as Depression, Generalized Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder, but often to a greater extent. Many transgender and gender non-conforming people also experience Gender Dysphoria.
What can we do? Be an ally, share a resource and educate yourself about the LGBTQ community.
For more information about services from Newaygo County Mental Health, call (231) 689-7330. Or visit our website www.newaygocmh.org
For more information about the Ferris State University LGBTQ Resource Center:
@FerrisLGBTQ on Facebook.
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