Pride and Mental Health


Rainbow retail and Pride marches dominate the calendar in the summer months. If you’re from the LGBTQ+ community, this can bring up all sorts of emotions. While there is a lot to celebrate and be proud of, it also reminds us how much more we need to do to live full and equal lives. Reflecting on what Pride means to us and those we support, we can spark new conversations, insights, and opportunities to learn and grow.

Why we need Pride Month

In the past, psychology professionals considered LGBTQ+ identities to be mental illnesses. The World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1990. According to the Human Dignity Trust, 67 jurisdictions continue to criminalize same-sex sexual activity. 42 of those countries criminalize consensual sexual activity between women, while 11 impose the death penalty for queer people. Consequently, LGBTQ+ people have been threatened, abused, mistreated, detained, punished, killed and excluded from society.

The Stonewall Riots that took place in 1969 in the US were important protests that highlighted the need for gay rights in the US and around the world. In New York, soon after the riots, the first openly gay march demanded equality and Pride was born. It is about celebrating all aspects of our life as LGBTQ+ people, a reminder of how far we have come, and how much more there is still to do.

Pride and mental health

When we look at LGBTQ+ history and the fight for equality, it is no surprise that we bear the mental health consequences. Discrimination, isolation, exclusion, rejection, and internal and societal oppression take their toll on us. Several studies found that LGBTQ+ individuals suffer from higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

Pride season helps us to recognize our trauma as a community and explore how that impacts us as individuals. It provides a platform for us to challenge governments, lawmakers, institutions, and organizations on inequalities. And on a personal level, it can boost our mental health and wellbeing.

Pride month mental health benefits

Connection: Several studies demonstrate the link between loneliness, poor mental health and early mortality. LGBTQ+ people can feel disconnected from friends and family, and struggle to find people to connect with. Over the summer months, we can feel a sense of inclusion and community through events, marches, articles and media focus. Joining in may not always be easy, but the affirmation, relatability and human connection can make us feel less alone and isolated.

Identity: When we are not affirmed and our identity is subject to abuse, our mental health suffers. Clinical psychologist Vivienne Cass describes six identity development stages that we go through as LGBTQ+ individuals: confusion, comparison, tolerance, acceptance, pride, and synthesis. Being alongside others on this journey can help us to move between stages and reach a point where we are able to integrate being LGBTQ+ into our identity.

Allyship: Pride often inspires those around us to show their support and advocate for us. Allyship brings validation and a sense that somebody has our back. Allies can become important members of our support network, offering a safe space and a source of encouragement when things are tough. Simply knowing that they are LGBTQ+ friendly fosters a relationship where we don’t have to worry about rejection and exclusion.

Representation: Being part of a heteronormative and cisnormative society means that it is difficult to see ‘people like us’ in day-to-day life. Representation gives us the sense of belonging and confidence that we can lead full lives. It may be just the courage we need to take a step forward towards our dreams, whether it be at school, work, or home.

Role models: Whenever we see a TV personality, sports figure, or somebody in a leadership position step forward with their LGBTQ+ identity, it has an impact. It can give us a boost that we can be ourselves and overcome hurdles when we come out. Pride is a time of storytelling and hearing from others who have come through adversity to lead open lives. It can inspire us to take an important step in our journey towards our pride.

Giving back: Research tells us that giving back is good for our mental health. It is beneficial for our stimulation and provides a sense of purpose and gratitude. Getting involved in Pride activities can leave you feeling confident, satisfied and has the potential to release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and pleasure chemicals, often referred to as ‘happy hormones’. Whether you are participating in a march, organizing a meet-up or contributing to an LGBTQ+ cause, the chances are that you’ll come away with a boost.

Wherever you are on your journey, psychotherapy can offer a safe space to explore your feelings.

Connect with one of our Therapists in Milwaukee, WI, and Across Wisconsin

If you’re interested in learning more about LGBTQIA Affirming Therapy, you can send us a message here or follow these simple steps:

  1. Contact Hillary Counseling to schedule an appointment

  2. Meet with a caring therapist for your first session

  3. Start receiving support from the comfort of your home!

Other Services Offered with Hillary Counseling

Our holistic therapists are here to help you when it comes to your mental health! We offer a variety of mental health services to support individuals and couples based in Milwaukee (or who live in Wisconsin). Sessions are available both in-person at our office in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, as well as virtually for anyone in the state. We offer anxiety treatmentteen therapygrief counselingonline therapyeating disorders therapytrauma & PTSD therapy, EMDR therapy, OCD therapytherapy for college students, women’s health and wellness, LGBTQ+ therapy, and Neurodivergent affirming therapy.

Article By: Sonal Thakrar, UK Psychologist