Checking in for Mental Health Awareness Month

Dear Pride Family,

If you are one of the LGBTQIA+ community members that the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey has been tracking since 2020, chances are that you may not be feeling that great. The data showed that LGBTQIA+ respondents reported higher levels of anxiety and depression symptoms than non-LGBTQIA+ respondents across all age groups surveyed. Moreover, disparities were most pronounced in our young adults (ages 18 to 29). Sadly, this is not news to most of us. 

While our LGBTQIA+ community has made significant strides towards achieving much-needed legal protections and dispelling social stigmas in the past few decades, mental health disparities continue to persist. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which serves not only to bring awareness to mental health issues, but also to help folks take actionable steps toward increased access to mental health and substance-use treatment care nationwide.  As a social worker, I encourage you to find the time to check-in with yourself this month and the people you love and seek out places to shore up your connection to the community.

As our country’s political discourse becomes increasingly polarized, all too often our LGBTQIA+ community members (especially our youth) are a favored wedge issue in public discourse.  Polarized climates in schools, workplaces, and communities have left LGBTQIA+ people more vulnerable to higher rates of harassment and violence. These distinct and chronic stressors related to our sexual orientation and/or gender identity lead to minority stress. These experiences are especially amplified for our LGBTQIA+ community members who hold multiple marginalized identities and who must carefully navigate social racism alongside homophobia and/or transphobia, for example. Discrimination can result in long-term fear or lack of confidence in support systems and providers that are available which exacerbates minority stress. 

However, we also know how incredibly resilient our very diverse LGBTQIA+ community has been.
Recent theories center on the “buffering effect” that connection to community can have on minority stress.
This is not a new idea – bell hooks taught us long ago that “rarely, if ever, are any of us healed in isolation. Healing is an act of communion.” 

I found this to be true for myself when I navigated the loss of my father to COVID and simultaneously went through a painful divorce during the pandemic. In addition to seeing a LGBTQIA+-affirming  therapist, volunteering with She Fest helped ground me through that difficult time. I knew that no matter what was going on in my life, I had a group of queer and nonbinary folks who would be happy to see me and a volunteer project that helped build my confidence and connection to my community.

If you are interested in building community and networks of social support with LGBTQIA+ folks, we invite you to join us as a volunteer at San Diego Pride, have breakfast with us at our monthly Community Building Workshops, attend Pride Power Summit this Saturday, check out the programming of She Fest (including their 2nd Annual Queer Speed Friending event on May 19th!) , our Latine Coalition, QAPIMEDA Coalition, Art of Pride, or the many other volunteer-led programs at San Diego Pride who are looking for folks just like you to get involved! 

Together, let’s remove the stigma associated with asking for help and lean into community care this May!

With Pride,

Sarafina signature

Sarafina Scapicchio, MSW (she/her)
Interim Co-Executive Director


About San Diego Pride

San Diego Pride raises funds primarily through festival ticket and beverage sales, and through sponsorships, and exhibitor fees. These funds support San Diego Pride’s community philanthropy which has distributed more than $2.5 million in advancement of its mission to foster pride, equality, and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities locally, nationally, and globally.