Keyword: mental health

Cochran, Susan D.; Emerging Issues in Research on Lesbians’ and Gay Men’s Mental Health: Does Sexual Orientation Really Matter?; American Psychologist; 932-947
Theoretical writings and research suggest that the onset, course, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders among lesbians and gay men differ in important ways from those of other individuals. Recent improvements in studies of sexual orientation and mental health morbidity have enabled researchers to find some elevated risk for stress-sensitive disorders that is generally attributed to the harmful effects of antihomosexual bias, Lesbians and gay men who seek mental health services must find culturally competent care within systems that may not fully address their concerns. The affirmative therapies offer a model for intervention, but their efficacy and effectiveness need to be empirically documented. Although methodological obstacles are substantial, failure to consider research questions in this domain overlooks the welfare of individuals who may represent a sizable minority of those accessing mental health services annually.
Santangelo, Ashley; A Blueprint When Feeling Blue: How A Mental Health Diagnosis Can Be Empowering
A Canadian study that was facilitated in 2001 explored factors in the lives of adults with a mental illness that influenced the degree of empowerment felt in their lives. Every participant was in some kind of mental health treatment (either therapy, medication management, a peer support group, or a combination of more than one treatment method). The study revealed that the two factors below had a significant influence on empowerment:

1.) Personal motivation: When consumers of mental health services were able to take more initiative in making choices, it resulted in improved confidence, skill development, and greater sense of control over their lives.

2.) Supportive Relationships: Consumers of mental health services reported feeling more empowered when their personal and professional relationships were supportive and fair. This resulted in increased participation and involvement in the community, particularly if they were able to connect with a community of peers who they saw on a regular basis.

I have actually witnessed the peer support models become increasingly common in the past decade and know of individuals who have discovered a sense of purpose once they become involved in peer support. These kinds of groups and relationships have the potential to offer mental health consumers a sense of connection that may be difficult to find elsewhere.

Giving and receiving mutual support to other with a mental illness can provide empowerment and a sense of purpose.