Don't Ask; Don't Know!

LGBT Health Awareness Week Begins March 26

This headline grabbed our attention while reading an article by the American Lung Association on the prevalence of smoking among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Ten years ago, the National Coalition for LGBT Health initiated the first LGBT Health Awareness Week. Here we are, a decade later, and we aren’t much further along. While most surveys and research studies “routinely collect data about age, gender, race and ethnicity, income and education levels,” sexual orientation and gender identity are ignored.

When you consider that mental health is also often neglected when addressing overall well-being, it becomes clear that we’re on an uphill battle. The National Coalition for LGBT Health’s CALL TO ACTION this year is to “Come Out For Health,” asking “community members, advocates, service providers, and government officials to recognize health and wellness as an essential part of the social justice movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, families and the wider community.”

As Houston’s leading GLBT behavioral health provider, we ask that you pay attention to your own mental health, including what we refer to as the “10 Domains” of wellness.

  1. Stress Management
  2. Healthy Eating
  3. Physical Activity
  4. Restful Sleep
  5. Service to Others
  6. Support Network
  7. Optimism Based on Positive Expectations
  8. Cognitive Skills to Avoid Negative Thinking
  9. Spiritual Beliefs and Practices
  10. A Sense of Meaning and Purpose

Each of these topics is discussed at our weekly Whole Health, Wellness & Resiliency peer support group. Every Monday at 2 p.m., we welcome you to attend to set your own personal goals and work toward attaining them with peer support. This ongoing FREE group is part of our Empowering Mind & Body (EMBody) program, a collaborative program between Montrose Counseling Center and Legacy Community Health Services.

As a community, we all need to advocate for our own physical and mental health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of integrating questions about sexual orientation and gender identity into national surveys so that we don’t have to be invisible. Being uncounted is being discounted.