Nurturing Your Mental Wellbeing as an LGBTQ+ Professional: Strategies for Self-Care and Thriving in the Workplace
In 2023, more companies than ever are expressing support for the LGBTQ+ community. Yet, this support does not always extend to within the workplace.
LGBTQ+ individuals, especially women and trans employees, still encounter many obstacles. This includes underrepresentation, isolation, discrimination, and limited career growth. It's clear to see there's a disconnect between perceived progress and LGBTQ+ experiences.
Many organisations now recognise the importance of attracting a diverse workforce. But to do this, creating an inclusive workplace goes beyond mere symbolic gestures. It requires understanding the challenges LGBTQ+ people at work face that can affect their wellbeing. We will explore these challenges in this article, offering practical strategies and resources.
LGBTQ+ Challenges At Work
The decision of whether to come out at work can be a daunting one. Fear of discrimination and heteronormative expectations can create anxiety and discomfort.
Fear of Being Outed
Some may choose to keep their sexual orientation or gender identity private at work. This can create a fear of being 'outed', which can be stressful. The risk of this privacy being invaded through social media or by colleagues can add to this further.
Microaggressions and Stereotyping
After coming out, LGBTQ+ professionals may experience subtle forms of discrimination through microaggressions. Colleagues may make negative assumptions or treat people differently based on stereotypes.
Negative workplace gossip can further compound the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ professionals. Being subjected to comments or rumours can impact mental wellbeing and work relationships.
Discrimination and Rejection
LGBTQ+ professionals may face discrimination when it comes to promotions and other opportunities. This could be due to implicit or explicit biases. Overlooking qualified individuals can result in feelings of frustration and exclusion.
Many workplace practices and policies still reflect heteronormative assumptions, isolating LGBTQ+ professionals. This might include a lack of gender-neutral bathrooms and gender options on forms, or erasure of LGBTQ+ partners and dependents. This can contribute to a sense of exclusion and being othered.
How To Take Care Of Your Mental Health At Work As An LGBTQ+ Person
Caring for your mental health as an LGBTQ+ person shares many similarities with non-LGBTQ+ people. But, there are some extra steps and considerations that might improve mental health both in the workplace and at home.
Get Professional Support
Look for a therapist who aligns with your needs and preferences. Consider factors such as their therapeutic approach and whether they are LGBTQ+ inclusive. Online directories like Pink Therapy can help you find LGBTQ+-friendly therapists. If cost is a concern, consider trainee therapists, who may offer reduced-cost services. You can also talk to your employer about whether they can provide free access to a platform such as Kara Connect. Here, you can find inclusive therapists and professionals paid for by your employer.
Utilise online platforms and communities to connect with fellow LGBTQ+ individuals. Virtual support groups and platforms like TikTok or Instagram can provide a sense of belonging. Ensure you find spaces that are supportive and inclusive - not all online environments may be safe or positive. You can also reach out to a trusted friend, especially if they are part of the LGBTQ+ community themselves. You can find many LGBTQ+ inclusive events online, such as Eventbrite. Finding community with LGBTQ+ people can provide validation and understanding.
Find Work/Life Balance
Engage in activities that bring you peace and allow you to express yourself . Pursuing hobbies can serve as outlets for channelling emotions and enhancing confidence. This is particularly true for community based hobbies.
Use Free Helplines
If speaking to a therapist isn't an option, consider reaching out to a helpline. There are many helplines designed to support LGBTQ+ individuals. This includes organisations like Switchboard (UK), and MindOut, who offer phone and online chat support. These helplines provide a safe space to express your feelings without fear of judgement.
Despite the progress made in LGBTQ+ rights within the corporate world, there is still a long way to go. The need for a work environment where LGBTQ+ people can thrive is evident. Companies must recognise the importance of attracting and supporting a diverse workforce. In doing this, they appeal to a new generation that values diversity and inclusion.
Until then, LGBTQ+ professionals continue to experience stress in the workplace. They may face discrimination, microaggressions, assumptions, and limited career opportunities. These factors can have a significant negative impact on their mental health.
To take care of their wellbeing at work, there are some steps that LGBTQ+ people can take. Self-care is a personal journey, and finding what works for you is key.
Here at Kara Connect, we collaborate with employers to create a happier and healthier workplace. To do this, we consider the needs of everyone, regardless of their identity. To find out more about our services and how we can support your organisation, contact us here. Together, we can create a corporate culture where everyone can thrive. Everybody deserves to come to work as their most authentic selves without fear of judgement or discrimination.