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A Mental Health Moment
By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPC, NCC, Licensed Mental Health Therapist
The Truth Contributor


     Sex, a word with multiple uses in the English language.  Used as a verb or a noun to differentiate oneís gender, male or female.  When conducting a counseling intake or diagnostic assessment, one question asked is about a personís sexuality.  Personally, I donít give clientís options rather I allow them to explain their own sexuality in their own words.  Some of the answers I hear are: ďIím straight,Ē ďI like both boys and girls,Ē ďIím gay,Ē and at times ďI donít know yet.Ē  As mental health counselors, I believe I can speak for most, but it is highly respectful ensuring that we are clear on how clientís wish to be addressed whether it is a nickname or pronoun.

Bernadette Joy Graham,

     Last weekend, Toledo celebrated Pride Weekend, a time when the LGBTQ community comes together as well as individuals who support the community.  I attended my first Pride festival in Washington, DC in 2005 with a female friend who was having a difficult time ďcoming outĒ or sharing with her family and friends that she was attracted to women and identified sexually as a lesbian.  It would be her first Pride experience as well. 

I had no idea what to expect nor did I have any opinions of otherís sexual orientation.  I was a heterosexual woman attending a festival of other sexual orientations different than my own.  I had a great time, it was a festival, we enjoyed entertainment, food, drinks and I experienced the ďprideĒ of others and helped a friend become more engaged in a community in which she wanted to become a part.

     Over the years of counseling otherís, I have had many clientís who were experiencing mental and emotional distress due to being a part of the LGBTQ community by otherís in our society not willing to accept them especially their families.  Iím a black woman, I know what itís like to be discriminated against due to something I canít change nor hide, not that I would want to.  Just as oneís skin color has a lot of negativity associated by some in our society, so does oneís sexuality.  I believe as human beings we have the right to express ourselves, to live and to love as we choose. 

     Take a mental health moment to remember your freedoms and rights.  Not being heterosexual is not a mental health disorder but not having your sexuality accepted may cause some mental and emotional symptoms such as depression and/or anxiety.   Seek out professional providers whom may offer support in working through issues of sexuality.  While counseling may not be able to change otherís opinions, it can help in providing assistance living in a world with otherís who donít always understand or are strongly opinionated of various aspects of life that is affecting yours in a negative manner.  Be who you are no matter what not just because its fair but because itís mentally and emotionally HEALTHY!

   Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She is available for presentations and speaking engagements on mental health topics.  Provide feedback or reach out at graham.bernadette@gmail.com or visit her website at www.bjgrahamcounseling.com.  For appointment information please call 419.409.4929





Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/06/19 00:47:37 -0400.

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