Celebrating Pride Month with a Focus on Mental Health

While Pride Month often serves as a fun, vibrant celebration, it can also be an opportunity to connect those who are struggling with mental health to resources that they otherwise may not encounter. Let’s examine the intersection of LGBTQ+ identity, Pride month, and mental health.

Joe Rendeiro By Joseph Rendeiro
PRIDE Parade

Updated on Jun 05, 2024

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Pride is a celebration of LGBTQ+ identity and self-expression. But between the throngs of attendees dressed in vibrant rainbow costumes and the parades filled with ornate floats, upbeat music, and lively dancing, it can be easy to forget that this celebration draws its roots from pivotal moments of resistance against oppression.

A police raid on a popular gay bar in June of 1969 ignited the Stonewall Uprising, which saw thousands of protestors clash with law enforcement for multiple nights. One year later, the first Pride marches were held to commemorate the demonstrations and serve as a rallying cry for visibility and justice in the face of discrimination and adversity. While growing acceptance LGBTQ+ individuals has reshaped Pride into a celebration, discrimination and adversity continue to plague communities across the country and across the globe, with significant implications for the mental health of people living in less tolerant areas.

Rainier Wells, a licensed mental health counselor with Grow Therapy who identifies as non-binary, says that it is completely reasonable for people to want to focus on joy, positivity, and celebration at Pride events. But Pride month can also be an opportunity to connect those who are struggling with mental health to resources that they otherwise may not encounter.

“While the spotlight light’s on us, let’s step into it,” said Wells, who specializes in working with LGBTQ+ individuals. “We’re already out there and we’re talking about what affects us in our communities. Why not also talk about some of the harder stuff that makes it difficult to feel pride or express ourselves?”

The Intersection of LGBTQ+ Identity and Mental Health

The LGBTQ+ community encompasses a wide range of intersectional identities which can make studying the mental health of the group as a whole particularly difficult. However, overall trends suggest that the queer community is at higher risk of experiencing mental health challenges in comparison to their counterparts.

A 2023 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health and Services Administration (SAMHSA), which studied the behavioral health of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults, consistently found that LGB adults were more likely than straight adults to experience a mental illness, a major depressive episode, or thoughts of suicide. Likewise, a 2023 survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that nearly 70% of LGBT+ individuals reported needing a mental health service over the past two years in comparison to about 40% of non-LGBT+ individuals.

Challenges Faced by the LGBTQ+ Community

For many people within the LGBTQ+ community, the challenges that begin to impact their mental health start at a young age. From bullying at schools to unsupportive household environments, the weight of discrimination and alienation can be felt early. In 2024, the Trevor Project released a national survey on the mental health of LGBTQ+ young people which found that:

Living in Florida, Wells has seen first-hand the impact that anti-LGBTQ+ legislation can have on communities. Policy makers in the state have attempted and often succeeded in restricting language about the queer community, removing books and lessons from school curriculums, and even banning inclusive symbols that show solidarity for events like Pride.

“These bigger and smaller things, as they come together, make it feel like we’re being bristled all around,”  they said. And Wells worries that this silencing factor may cause people to mask themselves and avoid living authentically, which could ultimately result in tragic consequences for young people and adults alike.

“We’re a social species, and what the bigger group theoretically says sometimes feels like it should go,” they said. “If we’re hearing all of this, the human mind is usually going to think maybe there’s something to that. We’re going to have people thinking that they’re wrong internally and then attacking from within.”

Positive Aspects of LGBTQ+ Identity on Mental Health

Despite these micro- and macro-aggressions, many LGBTQ+ adults and youth remain resilient and cope with mental health challenges by leaning into their queerness. In a qualitative study that explored the well-being of LGBTQ youth, researchers found that three factors positively influenced teens lives:

“We tend to seek each other out,” Wells pointed out. “There’s a resourcefulness in the community building, and we always find a way… No matter where it is—in the middle of nowhere to the biggest cities—we will always find others like ourselves.”

The Role of Pride Month in Promoting Mental Health

For those who live outside of major metropolitan areas or have limited ability to travel, connecting with the larger LGBTQ+ community regularly may not be easy. Pride month and the events associated with it can provide a great first step to fostering that connection and introducing individuals to the range of services and organizations that exist for the queer community, including mental health services. It can also be an opportunity for many individuals who are exploring their identities to meet LGBTQ+ peers and hear from voices that could help them on their personal journey.

Awareness and Education

To ensure that people understand the full spectrum of services and opportunities available during Pride month, Wells believes that organizers need to frame the events as more than just a celebration.

“People should be thinking, ‘If I go to this event, I may be able to learn about something new that could connect me to something I really need,’” Wells said.

There are often a variety of mental health resources that attendees can find at a Pride-themed events, including:

Community and Solidarity

Aside from the specific mental health services provided, Pride can also support overall mental well-being for queer people by fostering a sense of belonging.

Although many communities today are more accepting of LGBTQ+ people, individuals across the age spectrum still experience social isolation due to their queerness which can impact their mental health. Only about 40% of young LGBTQ people surveyed by the Trevor Project reported feeling that their home was an affirming space. On the opposite end of the spectrum, many aging LGBTQ+ adults experience loneliness because they have a history of family rejection.

For those who don’t come from tolerant environments, their friends and social circles can become a chosen family. And having strong social and support networks can mitigate feelings of loneliness and depression that can lead to poor mental health outcomes.

Pride events create opportunities for people to connect with others who share similar experiences, interests, and identities. Younger people can see themselves reflected positively in their communities, while older people have the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate contributions that different generations of queer people have made to the struggle for equality.

Mental Health Resources and Support During Pride Month

Providing opportunities to find LGBTQ+ friendly resources can be particularly critical during Pride month because many in the queer community lack access and don’t know how to get mental health support they need.

Access to LGBTQ+ Friendly Mental Health Services

Improving rates of mental health treatment among LGBTQ people can be tricky for a variety of reasons. A second survey of LGBTQ adults conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that, among respondents who had either received or tried to receive mental health care over the past three years:

On the specific issue of disconnect that many individuals report feeling, Wells isn’t surprised. Many of her own clients have shared their experiences meeting with “LGBTQ specialists” who they felt didn’t truly understand the unique issues affecting the community or who outright said that they only tolerate queer people.

“They may say, ‘I’ve done a training or two,’ or ‘I support the community,’ but they’re not really trying to hear from the community,” Wells said. “Health care providers of all types, as well as anyone in the community who seeks to understand us more and support us, have to go to us…. Going to our writers, our authors, our speakers, our advocates, especially those from multiple intersectionalities, is where we’re going to get some true wisdom about how to actually show up, find the appropriate language, and learn how to help.”

Initiatives and Campaigns

Pride month can make it significantly easier for individuals to identify the providers and services that are tailored to their needs. Mental health-focused organizations, LGBTQ community groups, and individual health care providers often use the month to shine the spotlight on the challenges facing the different sub-communities within the broader LGBTQ+ umbrella and direct people to those who can help.

While there are many successful campaigns that are run throughout Pride, Wells highlighted the Trans Lifeline as an organization with unique engagement strategies. The Trans Lifeline provides a hotline which allows trans and questioning people who are experiencing a crisis to talk confidentiality with a trans or nonbinary operator. In 2024, the Trans Lifeline is running the “Here to Stay” campaign which includes less common fundraising efforts such as charity streams with supporters and allies in the gaming community.

Organizations can also take more traditional approaches to celebrating Pride. For example, the FitzLane Project is a model for connecting with the community on the ground. The FitzLane Project provides funding to underprivileged transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit youth in Florida for specialized mental health services at their chosen provider. Wells said the organization has done “immaculate outreach” during Pride month by tabling at community events, suicide walks, Juneteenth commemorations, and other mental health awareness events.

For organizations that choose to engage queer communities about mental health, visibility is key. That means meeting LGBTQ+ people where they exist.

How Therapy Can Help

When LGBTQ+ people start feeling isolated from relationships or are regularly experiencing negative thoughts that affect their ability to get through the day, these could be signs to consider seeking therapy.

Therapeutic Benefits of Inclusion and Acceptance

In their practice, Wells works with LGBTQ+ individuals to explore their trauma and the chronic, complex challenges that may stem from that trauma. Complex trauma among queer communities can be related to religion, identity, intersectionality, and overall societal oppression, among other things. While those issues can seem like a lot to confront, therapy can help people learn how to navigate through these challenges in their day to day lives.

“If I try to take on the weight of the world—of why homophobia, transphobia, and transmisogyny exist—that’s going to be too much,” Wells said. “Therapy is about helping us work on acknowledging and accepting what we can do and what we can’t.”

One therapeutic practice that Wells believes can be helpful for the LGBT community is body-based work that addresses feelings of disconnect and detachment. Somatic therapy attempts to identify how emotions can present in a physical form, using mind-body techniques to alleviate the ailment.

“With that body-based work, let’s Identify what’s showing up in the body, and then maybe we can connect it back to a feeling and a memory to try to build our understanding and narrative from there,” Wells said.

Self-compassion-based practices are another style of therapy that Wells has leaned on, which involves learning how to provide yourself with the same compassion that you would give a friend who is struggling. That may seem easy, but when confronted with failures or difficult challenges, people’s inner thoughts can turn negative.

“It’s a really beautiful style that has tangible activities, but also gives us the language to talk in a more neutral, but trending positive way that people seem to connect with,” Wells said. “The core of it is about common humanity, which means I’m not better or worse than anyone else.”

Research has shown that self-compassion can help individuals have a more stable sense of self-worth and avoid feelings of shame and loneliness.

Find Mental Health Care Today

Pride gives people a chance to feel what it’s like to exist in an environment that celebrates their uniqueness and authenticity. But the societal challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community that inspired the need for Pride continue to exist. When the parades are over and the speeches have ended, it’s important that queer people leave with the tools and resources that they need to navigate real life.

This Pride season, make sure that you are caring for your mental health. Explore the mental health resources offered both virtually and at in-person events near you. And if you are interested in finding the right therapist for you, learn how Grow Therapy can help you access the mental health care you need.


  • While living as an openly queer person can help forge a strong sense of identity and enable important social connection, LGBTQ+ individuals may also experience issues like discrimination, bullying, and exclusion, which can lead to mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. In comparison to non-LGBTQ+ individuals, queer people have consistently experienced higher rates of mental health challenges.

  • People who want to be allies can start by educating themselves about LGBTQ+ issues, terminology, and history, and by listening to the experiences and needs of LGBTQ+ individuals. Actively advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance can show solidarity, while sharing queer stories can amplify important LGBTQ+ voices and increase the visibility of the queer community. Pride offers many events in which allies can participate in speaking out against discrimination, homophobia, and transphobia while fostering a culture of acceptance and celebration of diversity.

  • June is a good time to focus on the mental health of the queer community because most Pride events occur in June as a commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising. Pride events tend to draw large crowds of LGBTQ+ individuals, providing the opportunity to offer mental health-specific programming that can connect individuals to mental health care providers.

  • LGBTQ+ students may encounter bullying, harassment, and discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, leading to feelings of isolation and fear. Lack of supportive policies and resources can exacerbate these issues, leaving queer students without adequate protection or access to inclusive support systems. Additionally, family rejection or unsupportive home environments can impact their mental health and academic performance.

About the author
Joe Rendeiro Joseph Rendeiro

Joseph Rendeiro is a freelance writer with an extensive background covering topics related to mental health counseling, social work, and psychology. He has spent the past 8 years creating content highlighting faculty fieldwork and research at accredited higher education institutions.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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