For Black Women Who Say They’re Okay When They’re Not

How are you feeling? 

As leaders in our communities, workplaces, families, and homes, Black women are often carrying a physical and emotional load for themselves and those around them.

Earlier this year we got a sobering reminder of the invisible baggage we carry when we learned about the death of Cheslie Kryst, former Miss USA and entertainment news correspondent at Extra

From the outside, the 30-year-old appeared to have it all. With a pageant crown, multiple degrees, talent, and charisma, she exuded what some would describe as “Black Girl Magic.” But in a social media post confirming her suicide, Kryst’s mother, April Simpkins, revealed Cheslie was dealing with high functioning depression.  

What is high functioning depression? The clinical term is dysthymia. According to Psychology Today, three causes of high functioning depression are trauma, intergenerational depression, and unresolved frustration, something many Black women know about.

In 2007 the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development published the report “Cultural dysthymia: An unrecognized disorder among African Americans?” The report states, “After more than 250 years of enslavement, prejudice, and discrimination, dysthymia is reflected in chronic low-grade sadness, anger, hostility, aggression, self-hatred, hopelessness, and self-destructive behaviors.”

As we’re starting to emerge from the pandemic and the stress of the past two years, it’s OK to not be OK. But if you’re not, it’s important to get help.

Here are six ways to mind your mental health:

  1. Make a to-do list and a to-don’t list. Too often we try to take on everything and consequently suffer from burnout. Try this Trash, Transfer, Trim, Treasure exercise we use at The Ladipo Group to help you recognize responsibilities and activities you should stop doing, delegate, spend less time on, or continue doing because it brings you joy.
  2. Ask for help. There’s no shame in admitting your emotions might be too much to process on your own. Use resources like TherapyForBlackGirls.com to find a therapist in your area.
  3. Rest, rest, rest. Whether it’s getting the amount of sleep you need each night or taking small rest breaks throughout the day, allow time for your body and mind to stop moving, shut down, and rest.
  4. Move your body. Dance, exercise or do anything that gets your body moving daily. Movement boosts your mood by releasing endorphins which make us feel good.
  5. Curate your social media. Oftentimes we scroll through our phones and feel lousy. Review the people you follow and content you absorb, and delete those that don’t add joy.
  6. Intentionally cultivate and connect with your tribe. Our tribes of sister-friends get us through the darkest times and celebrate the joyful times as well. Don’t wait until you’re in the depths of despair to reach out. Sometimes a text or funny meme is all that’s needed.

If you struggle to take time out to care for your mental health, remember that you’ll be better able to care for others when you’re filled and refreshed from first caring for you!

Tonya Ladipo is the Founder and CEO of The Ladipo Group, the region’s only therapy, counseling, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consulting practice specializing in serving Black and African-American communities.

The Search for Culturally Competent Care

Fans of the award-winning TV series ‘This is Us’ may remember the episode where Randall decides to switch therapists. The character—a successful commodities trader turned Philadelphia City Councilman—is African American, was raised by a white family, and struggles with anxiety and PTSD. He admits that he isn’t comfortable sharing many of his feelings with his current therapist. His new doctor is “cool, smart, funny, Black, young father… we got a lot in common,” Randall explains.

Does your therapist ‘get’ you? The answer to this question is a key factor in mental health recovery. 

Finding a provider you trust, who you connect with and who has experience working with people like you, isn’t always easy. Yet it is especially important for members of minority groups—many of whom suffer generational trauma from systemic racism, yet don’t receive the treatment they need. 

The numbers are telling. Forty-five percent of U.S. adults with mental illness receive help, but just 23 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) adults, 33 percent of Black adults, 34 percent of Hispanic/Latinx adults, and very few Native people with mental illness get treatment. 

This is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month—a time to focus on the unique struggles around mental illness that minority communities in the United States face, along with the solutions. Finding culturally competent providers is one of them. 

What is cultural competence in mental health? 

Cultural competence is understanding that a person’s values, experiences, and personal beliefs are shaped by their ethnic and community identities and the influences that come with it. These factors can also explain why a patient avoids treatment and how they perceive and express symptoms, cope, adhere to treatment, and attach stigma to mental illness.

Exploring a patient’s cultural identity may help providers tailor mental health treatment. On the flip side, cultural incompetence likely contributes to underdiagnosis and/or misdiagnosis in Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities, writes Mental Health America. “Language differences between patient and provider, stigma of mental illness among BIPOC, and cultural presentation of symptoms are some of the many barriers to care that explain these errors in the diagnostic process.”

Assessing a provider’s level of cultural sensitivity 

It starts with asking the right questions. The National Alliance on Mental Illness advises that you ask:

  • Have you treated other people with my cultural background?
  • Have you received training in culturally competent care for members of my community?
  • How do you see our cultural backgrounds influencing our communication and my treatment?
  • Do you have training in trauma-informed care?

Here are a few places to start your search for a culturally-competent mental health provider:

Psychology Today – Search for a therapist by zip code, ethnicity served, type of therapy and more.

Inclusive Therapists – Search by insurance, specialty, therapist identity, language, cultural knowledge, therapeutic approach, and location.

Open Path – A nonprofit serving clients who cannot afford current market rates for therapy through a network of affordable mental health professionals. Search by specialty, language, therapist ethnicity, age specialty, treatment orientation, and location.

You might also try:

Asian Mental Health Collective

The Association of Black Psychologists Therapist Resource Directory

Therapy for Latinx

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare American Indian/Native Behavioral Health Service Locator

Talking to Kids About Gun Violence

Like many U.S. cities, Philadelphia is struggling with a rising tide of gun violence. During this calendar year alone, there were 957 nonfatal and 242 fatal shootings in the city as of July 4, 2022. One hundred and five of these cases involved children under age 18.

These shootings take their toll on the mental health of our children. Research suggests that concern about school violence or shootings may be a risk factor for developing anxiety disorders.

In an article written for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Faculty Member Aditi Vasan, M.D., MSHP writes, “As a pediatrician, I have often seen children come into the hospital or clinic with mental health-related symptoms, including depressed mood, anxiety, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, in the days and weeks following a shooting near their home or school.”

Children as young as two years old can be aware of gun violence, says Julie Campbell, LCSW, Trauma Services Director at the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center in Philadelphia. But because children are often exposed to gun violence on television and in video games, it can be hard for them to understand what it means when a person is shot.

It’s heartbreaking to watch a child struggle with the stress and anxiety that gun violence can provoke. But it’s not always easy to know how to respond, or what to say. Campbell encourages parents to take their cues from their kids, listening closely to what they know and what they fear, and responding at a level they can understand. “If we ask an open-ended question and then pause to listen deeply, the communication is much more meaningful and more likely to continue,” Campbell says.

Parents shouldn’t shy away from taking the lead to start the conversation, Campbell adds. And both parents and educators can help reassure children by talking about the safety measures that are in place to protect them.

Additional tips to help parents manage their children’s anxiety include:

  • Stay connected. After a first conversation, check in with your child every few days to see if they’re still feeling anxious.
  • Encourage kids to reach out to the adults around them if they’re worried or upset.
  • Turn the television off, especially if the news is replaying violent incidents.
  • Spend family time together. Have a game night or movie night so children feel that home is a safe and good place to be.
  • Support your child’s wellness, including helping them get enough exercise and sleep. Lack of sleep can make children more irritable and less able to manage their emotions.
  • Teach your child relaxation strategies such as deep breathing. A “4-7-8 breathing” exercise made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil has been found effective in managing anxiety and helping people fall asleep. Sesame Street offers several excellent video demonstrations of this breathing technique for children, including Learn to Belly Breathe with Rosita and Common and Colbie Caillat Sing Belly Breathing with Elmo.
  • Teach your child positive self-talk. “When we’re thinking fearful thoughts, we can hit the pause button in our brain and change them to positive thoughts, such as ‘I’m home, I’m safe, I know how to ask for help,’” Campbell says.
  • Maintain your own self-care. Getting support for yourself will trickle down to your children and make you more emotionally available for them.

Pediatricians can also be allies in helping support kids, Campbell notes. They are trained to talk to families about exposure to trauma and to detect signs of anxiety. Children might not have the words to express their feelings. But sleep problems, changes in eating habits, or complaints of headaches and stomach aches provide clues to problems that providers can address, she says. “Medical care is not just about your body, it’s also about your emotional health.”

The Importance of Violence Prevention

It’s a tragedy that gun violence has become so commonplace that we need strategies for helping our children manage the resulting anxiety. While we must provide them with this support, we also mustn’t accept this level of violence as a fact of life.

Greg Deavens, president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross, issued this statement on May 18, 2022: “Philadelphia – like so many other cities across the country – is experiencing an epidemic of gun violence. These senseless crimes destroy families and communities and take a toll on our collective mental well-being.” He added, “Independence strongly condemns all acts of violence, and we pledge to always be a force for positive change.”

Useful Links

If You Need Help

If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You also can text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

For more information about self-care strategies for mental health and where to find help, visit ibx.com/knowyourmind.

Take a Minute to Breathe

Ariana Grande’s popular song “breathin’” is an anthem to anxiety that speaks to a simple solution with a multitude of benefits. “Don’t know what else to try, but you tell me every time, just keep breathin’ and breathin’” chants the pop superstar.

Unfortunately, most of us weren’t taught the simple techniques and range of positive outcomes that come with—well—simply breathing.

It happens to all of us. Feelings like anxiety, stress, and fear cause our breathing to be shallow, irregular, or rapid. It’s entirely normal. Our body’s automatic response is to protect itself. The trick is to focus not on what’s happening around us, but to what is happening within us. We are breathing. It’s our most basic instinct.

Practicing steady, deep breathing delivers more oxygen to the body and brain, reduces your heart rate and decreases the release of cortisol—better known as the stress hormone. Deep breathing also releases endorphins. This in turn increases a sense of calm and can combat pain.

Other known benefits of deep breathing include:

  • Lower blood pressure –Relaxation opens the blood vessels and improves circulation
  • More energy—From increased oxygen to the circulatory system
  • Less headache pain – Due to reduced tension locked in the shoulders and neck (you’ll rest better, too!)

Practice Makes Perfect

Getting back to steadier breaths is within reach. All it takes is a few minutes of practice. The American Psychiatry Association (APA) created one solution called “Just Breathe.” For three to four minutes a day:

  • Think about your body. (Are you breathing rapidly, forgetting to take a breath altogether, or taking shallow gasps?)
  • Begin breathing slowly and deeply for a count of four
  • Hold that breath in for a count of four
  • Slowly let the breath out for a count of six

Why does this work? Our brains can tell when we have varying emotions. Taking a few minutes to exercise a large organ in our body – our lungs – refocuses precious energy and retrains the way our body responds to our feelings.

Self-Care is Good Care

Almost everyone can relate to Grande’s refrain, “Time goes by, and I can’t control my mind.”

When this does happen to you, remember to breathe. Better yet, be proactive and take a small step in self-care by scheduling 4 minutes of ‘me time’ on your iPhone or calendar. Devote that time to breathing exercises.

Then, the next time someone asks you “How are you,” it will ring true when you reply, “I am good!”

De-Escalating Stress For Improved Mental Health

After two years of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, people are feeling stressed. We have less patience for slights that we used to shrug off. We want people to listen to us and support us, but we sometimes may forget that they probably want the same things from us.

We might also feel we don’t have the bandwidth to extend more support to others. We might be a little less kind than we could be.

But in today’s reality, small annoyances can mushroom into big conflicts. We’ve seen shootings over parking spaces, people yelling at each other for wearing masks or not wearing masks, and a frightening uptick in violence throughout Philadelphia and across the country.

Sensational Headlines Can Raise Our Stress Levels

The smartphones we carry around often add to the tension. Social media, television, and radio programming often thrives on conflict and emotion. We are fed a steady stream of provocative headlines, whether they’re about the war in Ukraine, politics, or racial injustice. Even sports updates and weather forecasts are often presented in dire terms.

It’s important to be mindful of how these stories may upset us and try to avoid getting overwhelmed. Otherwise all this negative news can raise our blood pressure and increase our risk of heart disease or stroke, weaken our immune systems, affect the quality of our sleep, and generally worsen our mental health and sense of well-being.

Take Back Control

There are a few things we can do to de-escalate the level of stress in our lives.

Start by practicing love and kindness to yourself. Affirmations — positive statements we repeat to ourselves to help us overcome negative thoughts — can be a useful tool. Repeat gentle affirmations in your mind, such as wishing happiness and freedom from suffering for you and the people you care about. It sounds simple, but studies show that this kind of practice helps us feel connected and supported and increases our patience.

It’s also important to take breaks. Give your phone a rest and go outside. Take a walk, play with your dog, or say hello to your neighbors. Get together with friends in person.

And consider reading the news rather than listening to it. You’ll be able to better control which stories you read. Take them in at your own pace, and stop before you become overwhelmed.

Finally, remember that most people are having a hard time, so resist the temptation to assume the worst about them. If a friend, stranger, or co-worker makes an insensitive comment, it may be because they’re experiencing a lot of stress themselves. A well-meaning compliment or kind word from you could change their whole attitude and lead to a more positive relationship.

For more information about mental health self-care strategies and where to find help, visit ibx.com/knowyourmind.

Kicking the Pandemic Alcohol Habit

The isolation and anxiety of COVID-19 created a gateway for alcohol and substance misuse. Two years later many people are struggling to reverse habits formed during the pandemic. Now we’re moving past what we hope was the pandemic’s peak. This is a good time to assess whether we need to reduce our drinking to achieve a healthier lifestyle — physically and mentally.

Nationally, we saw alcohol consumption rise 14% among adults over age 30. Among women in particular, there was a 41% increase in heavy drinking, according to a September 2020 RAND Corporation study. This is particularly worrisome since alcohol has a disproportionately stronger effect on women compared to men, due to differences in metabolism and body water composition.

Alcohol Impacts Mental Health, Too

Alcohol overuse has serious physical effects, from liver disease to increased risks for stroke, cancers, vitamin deficiencies, and more. It also impacts mental health in profound ways.

In the short term, it can lead to poor judgement, car accidents, and domestic violence. It is a known risk factor for sexual assault and death by suicide. Heavy drinking is also associated with depression, anxiety, and even psychosis.

Underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression can drive alcohol misuse, as people try to self-medicate to feel better.

The first step to eliminating dependence on alcohol is realizing there’s a problem. This is not as easy as it seems, because addiction changes the way the brain works and makes it difficult to recognize excessive drinking. In addition, drinking alcohol is an integral part of American social life and is depicted frequently in popular entertainment, and the temptation to join in is difficult to avoid.

The Warning Signs of Overuse

Experts point to several key signs to determine when alcohol use has become a problem. These include:

  • A craving for alcohol
  • The building up of tolerance — in which more alcohol is needed to achieve the same effects (sometimes accompanied by withdrawal — the experience of shaking and sweats in the absence of drinking)
  • Loss of control, in which a person drinks more than they intend to and is unable to stop.

In addition, family members and friends are often a reliable source and are usually the first to notice when alcohol misuse impacts work and family obligations. Finally, a sign of problem drinking is when important life areas, roles, and duties are negatively affected by drinking and/or its consequences.

As with most health concerns, a good first step is to talk with your family doctor or primary care provider. They are trained to manage problems of addiction and can steer you to the right kind of care. This may include therapy that can help you create a practical plan to change drinking behavior, think through potential barriers in advance, and develop drink refusal skills.

Treatment may also include several services including (but not limited to) talk therapies, medication-assisted treatment, rehabilitation services, and peer support.

Take a Free Screening

Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services has a broad list of resources for information and support. If you’re unsure whether your use of alcohol needs to be addressed, you can complete a free online screening at HealthyMindsPhilly.

COVID-19 has brought unprecedented stress to all of our lives. Two years into the pandemic, it’s a good time to check in with ourselves and plan a healthy path forward. Fortunately, just as we didn’t have to weather COVID-19 alone, we don’t have to navigate sobriety alone either.

Useful Links

If You Need Help

If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You also can text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

For more information about depression, self-care strategies, and where to find help, visit ibx.com/knowyourmind.

Stand Together for Mental Health

The mind is the seat of consciousness, unconsciousness, and mental processes including thought, imagination, memory, will, and sensation. It is responsible for perception, pain experience, belief, desire, intention, and emotion.

Imagine this seat of consciousness and unconsciousness has been infiltrated and those processes are compromised.  How would you know? What would you do if you knew?  

Most experts agree trauma is an underlying (and often unresolved) common denominator for individuals experiencing behavioral health challenges. Trauma has an indelible impact on all of us whether from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) or traumas experienced across the lifespan.

The pandemic introduced another layer of complexity. COVID-19 forced many to operate, isolate, and perform in ways that created stress, uncertainty, and confusion.  Studies show individuals are more likely to perform better when their mental health and wellbeing (MWB) is high.

MWB is a critical part of developing healthy coping skills to manage the challenges we face every day. Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as not merely the absence of mental health problems but as a “state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community”. MWB is central to effective human functioning. 

Let’s go back to our opening questions and expand.

For many people, the first sign of trauma is a change in behavior, especially in response to something sudden. For others, trauma may be something that has impacted us over a period of time and may become part of our everyday embodiment. Regardless of whether we are experiencing acute trauma or chronic trauma, the “what would you do?” opportunities are the same: identify resources and supports to help address trauma in a healthy way.

Fortunately, the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have partnered on the Together for Mental Health campaign. DBHIDS and NAMI remind us that anyone can experience mental illness regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender identity.

It is important to recognize there are common barriers to accessing treatment, such as cost, prejudice, and discrimination. We’re not all in the same boat when it comes to moving toward mental wellbeing. We ARE in the same storm of COVID-19 and the traumas experienced as a result, but we are in different boats. 

Recognizing these challenges, DBHIDS embraced the mantra: “it’s OK to NOT be OK” and launched the “Boost Your Mood” campaign. DBHIDS provides a variety of resources to support Philadelphians experiencing trauma, mental illness, substance use/dependence, and other behavioral health challenges.

Using Trauma, Equity, and Community (TEC) as a lens to understanding and addressing behavioral health challenges across Philadelphia’s diverse communities, DBHIDS believes that regardless of the level of stress and/or trauma we experience, we can all embrace mental wellbeing and thrive. We are #Together4MH.

H. Jean Wright II is deputy commissioner of the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) where he oversees the Behavioral Health and Justice Division. He has a doctorate in psychology with focus in clinical and forensic psychology.

Boost Your Mental Health with Exercise

Mental Health Awareness Month offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on and reprioritize our mental health and wellness. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking time for reflection is important; knowing what drains our energy and what gives us energy strengthens our ability to honor and take care of ourselves. I want to highlight one tool within our mental health and wellness toolbox:  Exercise.  

Exercise is an excellent tool for relieving stress, increasing energy, and promoting positive wellbeing. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity. However, you do not need to push through a session at the gym to receive the perks associated with regular physical activity. Walks around your neighborhood, opting to take stairs, and even doing squats while your brush your teeth can all provide benefits. Studies show that regardless of age or fitness level, exercise can provide some mental health benefits, such as:

Promoting happiness 

Exercise releases endorphins, creating feelings of happiness and euphoria. Research has shown that, in some cases, exercise works as well as medication in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression – and the effects can be long-lasting. One vigorous exercise session can alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time. 

Preventing cognitive decline

The brain typically shrinks in late adulthood, and this shrinkage plays a role in age-related memory decline. Working out, especially between ages 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevents degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning. 

Physical exercise is also important in remaining mentally sharp in advanced age. A 2012 study of people in their early 70s found that those who engaged in regular physical exercise, such as walking, retained bigger brains than those who were inactive.

Increasing relaxation 

For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia. Moving around 5 to 6 hours before bedtime raises the body’s core temperature. When the body temp drops back down to normal a few hours later, it signals the body it’s time to sleep.

Boosting brainpower 

Multiple studies conducted on mice and men show cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells (neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance. Studies suggest a tough workout increases levels of brain-derived protein in the body, which is believed to help with decision making, higher thinking, and learning. 

Supporting recovery 

Routine physical activity during treatment and recovery will help reintroduce natural levels of endorphins into the system. This helps with feeling better, but it also reteaches the body that it is capable of regulating its own brain chemistry and mood in healthy, natural ways.

We all deserve time to rest and recharge so we can be our best. I urge everyone to prioritize their own mental health and wellbeing. We won’t be effective in helping others unless we first take care of ourselves. 

Andrea Brooks is Chief Program Officer for the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS), where she oversees the Division of Behavioral Health.

Improving Transgender Mental Health Through Education, Awareness, and Support

The Golden Globe-winning television series Pose depicts the diversity, strength, and exuberance of the transgender (trans) community. Its popularity has helped viewers understand the real-life challenges of its characters and cast.

While Pose and other media are raising the profile of trans actors, too many trans people continue to face struggles that can impact both their mental and physical health. As we recognize the International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, we must work to dismantle the barriers to health that many trans people still face.

According to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates, 27.9 percent of Americans surveyed between December 29, 2021 and January 10, 2022 reported symptoms of anxiety disorder. However, among people identifying as transgender, the figure was nearly double — 50.4 percent. And according to the 2015 United States Transgender Survey (USTS), Black transgender individuals are eight times more likely to report psychological distress than the general population. Additionally, more than 30 percent of Black transgender individuals report negative experiences when seeking health care.

A History of Discrimination

Transgender individuals can be challenged to find meaningful employment because of discrimination on several levels, says Lisa Phillips, LCSW, (pronouns they/them). Philips is the lead therapist at Morris Home, a residential drug and alcohol facility in Southwest Philadelphia for transgender people facing chronic homelessness. For example, they may lack appropriate documentation (a legal name change can be expensive), which can create barriers to finding both employment and safe housing, Phillips says.

These difficulties, combined with stigmatization and higher-than-average rates of violence toward transgender individuals, cause financial and social hardship and lead to higher rates of homelessness and substance abuse.

A Health Care Challenge

It was only in 2019 that the World Health Organization removed “transsexualism” as a designated mental disorder and coined the term “gender incongruence” as a classification in the category of sexual health problems. Another challenge that trans people face is access to gender-affirming mental health providers, Phillips says.

Clinicians unfamiliar with working with transgender people can perpetuate harm by misgendering them or making assumptions about a person’s lived experience. Some transgender individuals have been rejected by their families and feel isolated; some cisgender clinicians may not be checking for such issues or assessing appropriately.

Clinicians who are unfamiliar with the transgender experience may overemphasize gender identity when the real medical issue is something else, like depression or an eating disorder. Phillips notes, “A lot of times, when a transgender person is going to see a medical provider, the burden falls on the client to educate the clinician about their experience. That can create mental stress and detract from the quality of care.”

And making a gender-affirming transition can be a lengthy and expensive process. “For trans people that medically transition, there is a great deal of gatekeeping and limited resources, especially for trans communities in more rural or conservative areas,” they say.

A Diverse and Vibrant Community

On the International Transgender Day of Visibility, Phillips encourages people to educate themselves by reading about and listening to the trans community on social media and other sources.

“We have a lot to learn from trans people,” they add. “Trans communities have found creative and brilliant ways to survive, thrive, and create spaces of safety and joy in a culture that has actively sought to exclude trans experiences.”

If You Need Help

The Trans Lifeline provides peer support at 1-877-565-8860. For more information about depression, self-care strategies, and where to find help, visit ibx.com/knowyourmind.

If you, or someone you know, is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You also can text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.