Similar to some of you all, I get stage fright. As I sat under bright lights and in front of cameras on the filming day of this documentary and a little bit of anxiety set it, I took a deep breath. As a mental health advocate, I recognize the impact of sharing our stories and this documentary was an opportunity to do just that. I hope trans folks watching this documentary will see a trans person on a mental health journey and feel less alone. For all LGBTQ+ individuals that don’t see better days in their future, I want them to know there is hope.
In filming this documentary, I had the opportunity to discuss my own mental health journey. My journey with mental health has always been connected to my experience of gender. As a trans person, I experienced additional mental health challenges due to discrimination and gender dysphoria. Trans individuals experience higher rates of substance use and abuse, higher suicide rates, and higher rates of other mental health challenges than their cisgender peers. I had access to the mental health care I needed as I navigated my mental health journey, but I have only recently established a mental health support system that affirms my queerness. It is crucial that members of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly those that hold intersecting marginalized identities, have the support they need. Mental health outcomes become increasingly more bleak when affirming mental healthcare is not in place.
I'm proud to be a member of the team at Envision:You. We are empowering conversations about mental health, supporting the community to create environments that embrace LGBTQ+ youth's identities, and increasing access to affirming behavioral health care. The gaps in mental health support for LGBTQ+ individuals have devastating consequences. As a trans person, trans youth are close to my heart and are centered in my work at Envision:You. Unfortunately, several states are passing legislation, such as Texas SB1646, that makes it illegal for trans youth to access gender-affirming medical care.  This is a mental health crisis. According to recent studies transgender youth who do not receive gender-affirming treatment have a 70% higher risk of attempting suicide.  Access to affirming mental health care and affirming mental health spaces will save the lives of some of these youth. As Quána Madison so beautifully said in the documentary, “Mental Health is essential, we must uplift it."
Bio: Hayden (they/them) is a program coordinator at Envision:You. They have been working with Envision:You since 2019.