A pretty positive mental health checkup for Trans people and Workplace ... will take you less than 2 mins to read!
Hi! I'm Jennifer (PhD btw, but who cares!) I'm a trans woman who has a PhD in sociology and psycho-blah blah blah. So I know A LOT about myself and have a really good rapport for anyone that wants to talk!
In a workplace, we are a reflection of many nations and cultures - culturally diverse and dynamic by design. Within the workplace there are numerous communities coexisting in a workplace.
For those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit or queer (LGBTQ+), the range of experiences with mental health and well-being are as diverse as those found within the general population. However, the effects of intolerance and discrimination can create higher risks for mental health disorders among members of these communities.
There are typically three areas highly influence mental health and well-being:
- social inclusion
- freedom from discrimination and violence
- access to economic resources
Those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community are often targets of harassment, sexual and physical assault, discrimination and employment, and may also experience loss of family or social support. As a result, members of LGBTQ+ communities face higher rates of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and phobic disorders, self-harm and substance use. For those of your stats and math people (I'm not one of them), 41% of trans people consider suicide.
The risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within the LGBTQ+ community is double that of those that identify as heterosexual and LGBTQ+ youth face approximately 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse as heterosexual peers. Some research suggests that abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other substances may be two to four times higher among those that identify as LGBTQ+.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, there are many steps you can take to pursue and protect your own mental wellness in the work environment. A compassionate HR department can help anyone deal with issues. On a side note, 1 out of 200 people are trans, you may not know who they are.
Talking with a therapist may help you address issues such as coping with other people’s reactions to your sexual orientation, low self-esteem, thoughts of suicide or self-harm, depression from the long-term effects of bullying and discrimination, hostility or rejection from family, friends or your community, fear of violence in public places, feeling your body does not reflect your true gender, or difficulty accepting your sexual orientation Don’t suffer in silence. You should get help as soon as you feel the need. And you deserve all the support that is out there.
Some signs that you may benefit from seeking help are that you feel tired or lack energy, feel tearful, shut yourself away from people, no longer want to do the things you usually enjoy, use alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings, harm yourself or have thoughts of taking your own life.
I spoke to the Talent Management Director at Pink Triangle Press, a Canadian organization that specializes in LGBTQ+ publishing, online interactive media and television. Pink Triangle. It's a good place that suggests tips for employers who aim to promote and support mental wellness in the workplace. If you are in a inclusive workplace, I encourage you to 'jot' this down and when you are comfortable, take it to your higher ups!
As a suggestion, expanding the mandate of the health and safety committee, offering lunchtime speakers, ensuring staff social events are welcoming for spouses or ensuring Human Resource staff are trained to refer staff to external supports are simple steps that can be taken to support LGBTQ+
Organizations can take the following steps to improve the culture within the workplace to be more inclusive:
Increase awareness of the broader social and legal context in which LGBTQ+ individuals live.
Become familiar with the degree to which internalized discrimination can impact on health
Develop understanding of the social determinants of both physical and mental health
Promote family acceptance of LGBTQ adolescents and encourage them to connect with LGBTQ communities.
Provide appropriate equity training to ensure that colleagues and family members are treated without stereotypes or discrimination, and that the gender of trans individuals is not misidentified.
Summary... there's a lot of work to do, but we, as a community can increase acceptance, tolerance and maybe a little bit of awareness.
-jennc PhD. M.A.
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