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Local Psychiatrist Offers Perspective on Mental Health in the LGBTQIA+ Community

Local Psychiatrist Offers Perspective on Mental Health in the LGBTQIA+ Community

Your family may include an individual who identifies as LGBTQIA+, or perhaps you know LGBTQIA+ individuals at work or among your friends and neighbors. Lacking clarity, understanding, or up-to-date knowledge of communication issues in the community, you may hesitate to engage with them for fear of saying something hurtful or harmful to the person.

Conversely, if you are an LGBTQIA+ individual, your conversations with those unfamiliar with the LGBTQIA+ community may trigger difficult feelings. “LGBTQIA+ individuals face unique mental health issues as they navigate the broader community,” says Suselina Acosta-Goldstein, MD, a psychiatrist and behavioral health specialist with Washington Township Medical Foundation. “The everyday language we use matters.”

Dr. Acosta-Goldstein will discuss “Mental Health in the LGBTQIA+ Community” at an online Health & Wellness seminar, Wednesday, June 19. The 11 a.m. program can be viewed on Washington Hospital’s Facebook or YouTube page. If you cannot join the live program, the presentation will continue to be available on the Hospital’s YouTube page,

The presentation will focus on the unique mental health issues LGBTQIA+ individuals face, emphasizing the importance of awareness, acceptance and support. Understanding these challenges can foster resilience, promote well-being, and create a more inclusive society.

Dr. Acosta-Goldstein notes, “As society works to create safety and inclusivity in private and public spaces, both communities can work towards reducing the possibility of the unintentional harm that we deliver and/or internalize. All of us can do this by being more aware of the words we choose. We in the LGBTQIA+ community can also achieve this by letting go of unintentional harm or boundary setting when we cannot or should not.”

Dr. Acosta-Goldstein will discuss two main strategies for the LGBTQIA+ individuals to navigate: boundary setting and acceptance. She defines microaggressions as, “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities—whether intentional or unintentional—that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights.”

Microaggressions are something that many people may be guilty of whether they realize it or not. It is not the responsibility of the target to simply accept and move on. Dr. Acosta-Goldstein explains, “The language that we all use every day, from casual conversation to deep discussion, is reflective of society’s values, knowledge and experiences. Every individual whether LGBTQIA+ or not cannot escape society’s daily messages of what is valuable.”

For example, unintentionally calling someone he/him even after knowing this is not the person’s preferred pronouns can be completely normal. She adds, “In modern society, we may see dozens or even hundreds of faces every day. It would be impossible to get everyone’s gender identify right in our every thought. The key is intention and effort. Acknowledging your mistake or apologizing can go a long way in reducing harm. A gender-nonconforming person can also recognize the mistake and not absorb it as an insult, reducing the harm they allow into their well-being. Observe it, don’t absorb it.”

Dr. Acosta-Goldstein notes that when a person consciously changes the words they use, they can also change their own perspective of others. She says, “Society needs to change their perspective of the LGBTQIA+ community to one that sees us as valuable, capable equals. This alone can do so much for the mental health of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

At this seminar, Dr. Acosta-Goldstein will review how boundary setting can be an achievable goal. Additionally, she will offer other stress-reducing activities including sufficient sleep, socializing with your chosen community, hobbies and activities that bring you joy, engaging with nature regularly, and 30 minutes of sunshine a day. If mental health difficulties continue, she advises seeking help from a mental health professional well-versed in LGBTQIA+ issues. For more information, or to register for the June 19 seminar, visit