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Challenges for LGBTQ community can intensify during pandemic but free mental health support is available

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Posted at 3:53 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 20:43:04-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- With COVID-19 cases again on the rise and tensions intensifying across the country in the wake of police brutality cases, many Americans feel their stress levels have peaked.

But one particular group faces anxiety that can increase even more during this time.

"LGBTQ people and especially young adults experience higher rates of mental health problems like anxiety and depression," said Ellora Vilkin, a doctoral student at Stony Brook University's clinical psychology program.

Vilkin says anxiety is on the rise due to the pandemic and civil unrest across the country and the LGBTQ community face particular challenges that may be intensified right now.

"Because we're in this pandemic, where social support is harder to come by, there's more economic strain. There's more uncertainty about the future. All of these factors can increase the risk for mental health challenges among queer and trans people, who are already vulnerable," she explained.

And since colleges shut down early, forcing young adults to leave the schools where they're often surrounded by supportive friends, they may now be living at home with little support.

"Perhaps they're not 'out' as transgender or as gay. Perhaps their family is tolerant but doesn't really know how to relate to them or be supportive," she said.
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So now, Vilkin facilitates a free virtual support group, which can help strengthen coping skills, manage stress and more for anyone in the LGBTQ community.

"Online support groups like the one we're offering give queer and trans folks an opportunity to build a community around their shared experience, to learn from one another about how they're getting by and to feel less alone," she explained.

And Vilkin gives this advice to those still struggling.

"I would say know that you're not alone in feeling anxiety, stressed, discomfort right now. And really reach out to other queer and trans people and to folks, who can affirm you," she said.

[NOTE: There has been an overwhelming demand for Stony Brook's LGBTQ support groups, and they are currently full. You can request information about future groups by emailing krasnercenter@stonybrook.edu.]

THE REBOUND TAMPA BAY:

  • If you're interested in joining a future virtual support group at Stony Brook, you must be over 18 and pre-register. You can request more information by emailing here: krasnercenter@stonybrook.edu
  • If you need immediate help, call the LGBTQ National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564 or click on their website here: HTTPs://www.glbthotline.org/
  • If you're 18 or younger, call the LGBTQ National Youth Talk line at 1-800-246-7743.
  • For seniors, call the LGBTQ National Senior Hotline at 1-888-234-7243.
  • Other resources include: the Trans Life-line Hotline: 877-565-8860 which has a website with resources at https://www.translifeline.org/
  • The Trevor Project has a 24-hour hotline at: 1-866-488-7386 or got to https://www.thetrevorproject.org/