We are in the first full week of Pride Month.

There is so much to celebrate, and as with all months focused on particular communities and issues, Pride Month is also a time that offers opportunities to raise awareness about areas of concern, such as the mental health challenges those in the LBGTQ+ community face.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes that members of the LBGTQ+ community are at a higher risk of experiencing such conditions as depression and anxiety. They are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition, and people who are transgender are about four times as likely as those who are cisgender to experience a mental illness.

Suicidal thoughts and attempts are higher among youths in the community than among heterosexual kids, and they report feelings of sadness and helplessness more. Transgender youths face an ever higher incidence of these conditions.

If you plan on covering mental health and the LGBTQ+ community, Hackensack Meridian Health, which is one of the largest integrative behavioral-physical health systems in the region, has experts with experience in serving the community who are available for interviews. Hackensack Meridian Health is proud to have earned the “LGBTQ+ Health Care Equality Leader” designation – with a perfect score of 100.

They are available throughout the month for topics including:

  • How to respond when your child comes out to you.
  • The particular mental health challenges that the LGBTQ community faces, how they may be different than those faced among heterosexual people, and how therapy is tailored to account for these differences.
  • It’s well known now that social media can adversely affect our mental health, particularly that of kids. But what about the LGBTQ community, which long has faced off-line discrimination and harassment? How has it gotten worse, and what has been the impact on them, including–and perhaps especially–kids?

Among the Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) experts available to give interviews are:

Psychiatric Nurse Jordan Stefanski, who works in the Adolescent Unit at the Carrier Clinic, a 113-year-old behavioral health campus. Stefanski talks about how he goes out of his way to bring a sense of assurance to LGBTQ youths in his unit. He tells them about his own tough moments in life when he feels it can help. “I tell them about about how I had my issues growing up as a queer adolescent and now, as a full grown adult.”

One of his key priorities is providing tips on the best way to respond when your child, or a friend or adult relative, comes out to you.

Lawrence Booth, teacher and activities coordinator at East Mountain School, an alternative school on the Carrier Clinic campus for youths with mental health conditions. Himself part of the LGBTQ community, Mr. Booth uses both his work and lived experience to guide LGBTQ youths and their families.

Dr. Gary Small, chief of psychiatry at Hackensack University Medical Center and renowned expert on mental health and aging, can speak about older members of the LGBTQ community.


Please reach out if you're interested in interviewing these, or other, experts, for your coverage during Pride Month. We’d be happy to start working on scheduling interviews.