Mental Health in the 2SLGBTQIAP+ Community

An article by the GSA Gender and Sexuality Alliance Subcommittee

This Wednesday January 26th is Bell Let’s Talk Day. Bell Let’s Talk started in 2010 as an initiative aiming to spread awareness, combat stigma, and raise funds for mental health supports in Canada. Folks in the 2SLGBTQIAP+ community are more likely to experience mental illness and have higher suicide rates than heterosexual and cisgender peers. Let’s talk about this.

Unfortunately, there continues to exist a stigma and shame surrounding sexual and gender diversity. 2SLGBTQIAP+ folks are more vulnerable to mental illness because they can experience rejection from their family and friends, face stigma at work/school, and feel marginalized due to their sexual and/or gender identities. Gender and sexually diverse youth report higher levels of bullying and violence. Moreover, folks in the community face unique challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic resulting from isolation at home with family members that may not be accepting or affirming.

The above-mentioned factors and many more contribute to the mental health challenges those in the 2SLGBTQIAP+ community face; however, this is not a community defined by the hurdles faced when caring for mental health. Instead, this is a community of strength, resilience, and chosen family. For many folks in the queer community, chosen family includes the friends, family, and community members that support and love them unconditionally. This connection can help buffer some of the mental health challenges faced by these folks. At the Graduate Students’ Association’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance Subcommittee (GSA2), we organize and run several initiatives throughout the academic year to foster a sense of community within the 2SLGBTQIAP+ community. Join us in one (or all!) of the upcoming initiatives held by GSA2 to celebrate and connect with other 2SLGBTQIAP+ students, faculty, and allies at the University of Calgary:

  1. Coming Out Monologues – January 28th (presented by the GSA2 and Mental Health and Wellness Subcommittees).
    This is a social event that will bring together UCalgary students and celebrate coming out experiences. Students and faculty will share the trials, tribulations, and joys associated with their coming out experience. This will be a safe space to connect with others in the queer community at UCalgary.

  2. Voices on the Margins Speaker Series – LGBTQ+ Students’ Lived Experiences at The University of Calgary – February 22nd (presented by GSA2 member Cong Luo).
    This presentation highlights Cong’s research on the lived experiences of students and provides insight to the difficulties facing LGBTQ+ students on campus.

  3. Sex Week Workshop – What Sex Ed Misses and Asexuality and Aromanticism Workshops – February 8th and 9th (presented by the GSA2 and Sex Week Planning Committee).
    Come join the What Sex Ed Misses workshop and trivia event to learn about sexual health and gender diversity. The workshop will center on a discussion of what traditional sex ed misses, taboo discussions, practices, and how to safely do them. In the Asexuality and Aromanticism workshop, we will be unpacking myths about asexuality and aromanticism as “broken”, “lacking”, or just waiting for the “right person”. By joining this non-judgmental and safe space, you will learn more about the spectrums of asexual and aromantic identities and hopefully broaden your perspective and appreciation of non-romantic and non-sexual relationships.

*You can register for all events on the GSA Events website (https://gsa.ucalgary.ca/events/)

2SLGBTQIAP+ Mental Health Resources

Skipping Stone
Various services for trans and nonbinary folks
587-333-4342
#1250 – 407 2 St SW
Calgary, Alberta T2P 2Y3
skippingstone.ca

Queer Compass
Resource hub
queercompass.ca

End of the Rainbow Foundation
Programming and support for LGBTQ2S+ individuals, some specifically for newcomers
403-262-4086
Located at CommunityWise
endoftherainbow.ca

The Alex Youth Health Centre (trans affirming)
Hub for vulnerable Calgarians; offers services around health, housing, and community
403-520-6270
#104 – 2840 2 Ave SE
Calgary, Alberta T2A 7X9
thealex.ca

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line (24/7)
A support line specifically for First Nations and Inuit folks; can provide help to find other wellness supports if needed; offered in English, French, Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut
1-855-242-3310
hopeforwellness.ca