Home / Minority Stress: What is it and what can we do about it?

Minority Stress: What is it and what can we do about it?

We all face stress in everyday life. From jobs to school to family and friends. However, if you identify as someone in a marginalized group, research tells us that there are extra levels of stress we will encounter (Kurtz, 2021). There are two types of stress when we discuss minority stress. The first type is called external stress. External stress includes things such as discrimination and rejection from peers/ family members (Balsam & Mohr, 2007). A more specific example may look like bullying from classmates because you choose to go by a different name or openly dating someone of the same sex in your school. The second type of stress is called internal stress. Internal stress is when we internalize the negative messages around us (Balsam & Mohr, 2007). One way we might engage in internal stress could be to conceal our identities from those around us. Minority stress outcomes have been thoroughly researched. Some of these outcomes include: higher rates of victimization, harassment and depression/ anxiety. There are also negative health outcomes such as: high blood pressure and heart disease (Powell, 2024).

So what can we do about it?

  1. Be aware of your stressors.
  • Make a list. How does minority stress impact my life? The first step to making any change is knowing what we have to change. Once we understand the negative thoughts produced by minority stress, we can challenge them!
  1. Find the positive.
  • What are things you like about being LGBTQIA+? Who are people in your community or in the media who identify similarly that you can look up to?
  • Create a vision board with these things that you can access and add to regularly!
  1. Know how you like being supported.
  • Write down ways you think it would be helpful for the people in your life to support you and share it with them.
  • Maybe some days we just need a friend to listen to us, while other days we want to grab a coffee and sit in silence. Our support systems understanding how we can be helped is essential when we are dealing with stressors.
  1. Set your goals.
  • Once we understand how minority stress is impacting us, we can set goals to decrease the ways it affects us.
  • Maybe we realize our depression has increased since coming out. What are ways we can increase feelings of happiness or joy?
  • One example goal could be going to a LGBTQIA+ support group once a week for five weeks. Or read an affirming book for 20 minutes daily for seven days.
  1. If needed, see Affirmative- Based Therapy.
  • Sometimes minority stress becomes too much to handle with our own resources.
  • Finding an affirming therapist can be a helpful first start in uncovering ways to deal with minority stress.

This publication was made possible by Grant Number 1H79FG001252-01 from SAMHSA LGBTQI+ Family Support Program. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of SAMHSA.

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