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How Howard County is improving mental health for LGBTQ+ members

How Howard County is improving mental health for LGBTQ-plus members
How Howard County is improving mental health for LGBTQ-plus members 02:07

BALTIMORE -- Celebrating pride in Howard County has become bigger every year. 

While Pride Month can be a month full of celebrations for the LGBTQ+ community, it can also be a reminder to spread awareness of the struggles the community faces, especially mental health issues. 

WJZ spoke with a mental health professional about this and how a Howard County organization is working to make things better. 

Last year, the county started a tradition of raising the pride flag at a government building and the organization Howard County Pride has been putting on a number of events. 

CEO Alisha Tronetti says it would've made a huge difference having all of this when she was younger. 

"If I had seen that as a high schooler, the love, the support, and the freedom to explore my identity, I would've been there a lot more and I think it would've allowed me to understand who I am more in those crucial years in adolescence," Tronetti explained. 

The ACLU tracked more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills this year. 

In its annual survey of mental health in young LGBTQ+ people, the Trevor Project reports 90% of those surveyed say recent politics have negatively impacted them. 12%, more than 1-in-10, attempted suicide. 

Kyle Kunkel, a licensed clinical professional counselor with Thriveworks in Glen Burnie 

says the LGBTQ+ community has a lot of loaded stressors. 

"Being a group of a marginalized community, it's really difficult to have to advocate for yourself over and over to be just who you are, and having to justify to somebody that doesn't impact your life at all, creates a barrier," Kunkel said. "It adds so much stress that's not needed." 

The Trevor Project's survey also found half of respondents who wanted mental health care weren't able to get it. 

If you're looking, Kunkel recommends reaching out to friends with similar struggles. 

"I would really strongly encourage people to start within their safety net first, if I have a friend, and we're going through something similar, do they have somebody? Because the world can be cruel," Kunkel said. 

This is the reason Howard County Pride works to be so visible, so any LGBTQ+ person knows they have a community. 

"So that they can have these conversations and realize you're not alone with what you're going through, and we can learn from each other to make this journey just a little bit easier," Tronetti said. 

Howard County Pride is having an event at Color Burst Park in Columbia on Sunday. To learn more, click here

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