Finding Your Community

By : John Eichler – Sean’s House Peer Support Specialist

When it comes to the intersection of mental health and the LGBTQIA+ community, their overlap is marked by chilling statistics on the collective mental wellbeing of queer people worldwide.  

Seeing these high rates of mental illness in the community, especially for youth, Black, and Indigenous people of color, and transgender and gender non-conforming people should serve as a reminder to us all how important Pride month is, now more than ever. Amazing strides have been made in society as a whole, but now it is time to address the mental health pandemic that has plagued and continues to plague this community.

Community and a sense of belonging are needed to thrive in our world.   With the label of “community” attached to queer identity, one would think that this feeling of belonging is everpresent amongst its members. However, this is not the case for many whose identities are categorized within the LGBTQ+ community.  I know that it was not the case for me and it took coming to college to finally meet and connect with other queer people. The main thing we relate to is the fact of how isolating it has felt growing up queer in our hometowns, with families and friends that may not understand us, the fear of being in spaces of predominantly people not like us, and how all of these issues continue to persist. These feelings of loneliness, confusion, and feeling utterly lost may easily lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression, and many other mental illnesses.

However, through reflecting on my own queer identity, relationships, and the ups and downs of my own mental health journey I realized that there is a much more positive link between mental health and the LGBTQIA+ community beyond pain and that is the feeling of support and connection.

The queer community originated and reinforces the idea of “chosen” family. We as human beings have the power to pick and choose who we love, are vulnerable with, and give and receive support from. When members of the LBTQIA+ community face violence and persecution, it was the support built within the community that led to its perseverance and survival.

Going through life and trying to confront all of its many obstacles was not meant to be done alone. All people, regardless of sexuality and gender identity and any other identity marker should be able to find strong support systems. These people in your corner should support you and let you be authentically yourself in every manner and you should not feel afraid or ashamed to do so. Being LGBTQIA+ is beautiful and is not a mental illness. Being alone and afraid to express and explore your true self is what causes these issues, and at Sean’s House we want to offer all people a chance to come and find support through their peers to finally be in a safe space and be seen and truly, deeply accepted for who they are. Because at Sean’s House, we are proud of you for just being you and showing up to take a step forward in your own wellness.

This June, and every other month before and after it, take PRIDE in who you are, who you want to be, and how far you have made it.

Statistics- Retrieved from the Trevor Project 2020 National Survey of LGBTQIA+ youth

40% of LGBTQ respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth having seriously considered suicide

68% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the past two weeks, including more than 3 in 4 transgender and nonbinary youth

48% of LGBTQ youth reported engaging in self-harm in the past twelve months, including over 60%of transgender and nonbinary youth

46% of LGBTQ youth report they wanted psychological or emotional counseling from a mental health professional but were unable to receive it in the past 12 months

10% of LGBTQ youth reported undergoing conversion therapy, with 78% reporting it occurred when they were under age 18

29% of LGBTQ youth have experienced homelessness, been kicked out, or run away

1 in 3 LGBTQ youth reported that they had been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their LGBTQ identity

61% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being prevented or discouraged from using a bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity

86% of LGBTQ youth said that recent politics have negatively impacted their well-being

Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all or most people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected

“Studies have shown that all it takes is one accepting adult to decrease the risk of an LGBTQIA+ kid attempting suicide by 40% “

LGBTQ+ Resources-

Trevor Project Phone Line 1-866-488- 7386

Trevor Project Text Line- Text START to 678-678

Join or Start a Gender and Sexualities Alliance in your school today with the help of GLSEN

Find out more at

Sean’s House is open 8 am to 8 pm for anyone aged 14-24 to speak with peer supporters, and 24/7 to speak with a staff member

Father’s Day – Listen To Your Kids

“No Excuses”

“Rub Some Dirt On It”

“You’re Fine”

If we all had a nickel for any time a dad said one of those sayings, we, and future generations, would be rich for a long, long time. 

10 years ago last month, I became a dad for the first time. It’s an emotional time and you’re filled with a new love and excitement that is impossible to put into words, but in the coming days, you’ll start to worry about the responsibilities that come with being a father.

How do you keep them safe?

How do you pay for everything they need?

How do you balance work and being a dad?

All those emotions, worries, anxiety build up, but there’s no excuses, right? We’ll be fine, right? 

As I walk through my mental health journey and have become more and more outspoken about it, it’s hit me even further about the stigma surrounding males and their mental health. We’re supposed to be tough, we’re supposed to just get over things, but how do we rub dirt on depression? How do we just shake off our anxiety?

It took me hitting absolute rock bottom and sitting on a cold garage floor with a rope to realize I needed to truly seek help. I was less than 10 minutes away from no longer being a dad. 

I nearly threw away the opportunity to ever watch my daughter dance in a recital. I nearly threw away the opportunity to watch my son win an art contest. I nearly threw away the opportunity to have a catch with my kids. Why? Because for so long, I kept telling myself I was making excuses for the way I felt inside. I wasn’t being tough enough. 

But you know the funny thing I’ve learned over this journey? Being tough isn’t about shaking things off or rubbing dirt on it. It’s about showing true vulnerability. It’s about sharing your real, raw emotions and feelings. 

I’ve been blessed to be a dad for 10 years to three amazing kids. I’ve seen trophies won, awards handed out, accomplishments completed, but one of the greatest moments of pride came in the past two months when my 10-year-old son felt comfortable enough to talk to my wife and I about his true emotions and feelings. 

It took me over 30 years to realize how to deal with some of the emotions he was now opening up about at the age of 10. 

My hope is that those types of conversations become even more common in our society. That fathers all over the world ask how their children are doing and sit back and intently listen to the real answers, as hard as it may be to hear at times. 

So this weekend, I encourage all fathers to sit down and listen to their kids. Listen to their real emotions and don’t be afraid to share yours too, you never know how much it’ll help not only your own child, but more importantly, yourself. 

What Is Mindfulness And How Do I Do It?

My name is Michael Szczechowski. I’m a peer leader and resident knucklehead at Sean’s House. When I’m not supporting our peers, you can most likely find me unsuccessfully trying to whip something up in the kitchen here at 136 W. Main.

I recently graduated with a degree in philosophy and neuroscience from the University of Delaware. Somewhat recently I decided to commit to practicing mindfulness regularly, which was something that came up here or there in both my philosophy and neuroscience classes. You have likely heard of mindfulness, maybe from advertisements for apps or from its use in clinical treatments such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). There is also a multitude of cultural and philosophical background to meditation in general; that much I know from reading about it in classes, but up until recently, I had not given meditating a try, as it was something I was unsure about and didn’t know how much I would benefit from it.

First, what is mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is a specific kind of meditation. Much like practicing the guitar or shooting a basketball, it is a skill and the ultimate goal of each session is to simply improve. 

There are many different ways to meditate, depending on the goal of the meditator and their prior experience with meditating. There is clearly a difference between a Hindu monk who has spent their life in an ashram to learn and practice bhakti yoga, and an American that joins in on their weekly mindfulness session at the local gym. 

Anyone can practice mindfulness meditation if they like. There are no cultural, religious, or experiential qualifications to begin practicing. There are no expectations to be a certain kind of person, to be a part of a specific group, or anything like that. You just have to be willing to give it a go.

What is the goal of mindfulness?

In this context, I’m going to claim that it is not about becoming enlightened or developing one’s mental prowess.  It’s also not about practicing to relax yourself on command,  or to fully overcome and eradicate mental demons. 

To be mindful is just to have an awareness. I will say that mindfulness is about being aware of what is happening in this present moment, right now. 

If you are like me, my initial reaction to reading that might be that it sounds cryptic or condescending, but like most of us, we are consumed with thoughts of the things that you did, the things that need to be done, daydreams, hopes, desires, and all other kinds of past and future-oriented thoughts that you often fail to occupy your mind with the actual present moment, your current state of awareness.

To realize the benefit of being in the present, I’ll go back to my knucklehead status here at the house. 

There have been several situations where I might ask a question or might make a small mistake that my coworkers make a joke about and we share a laugh and move on. Or so we think. 

But an hour later, two hours, the next day, and the day after those situations,  I find myself replaying them in my head. 

“What the hell is wrong with me, why am I such a moron?” 

Those are the thoughts that take over my mind. They come spontaneously – often I’m not trying to think about the scenarios, I’m not trying to put myself into a bad mood, but they just come to mind, completely out of the blue.  How many times do these types of minor situations take over our thoughts, minds, actions and attitude?

Perhaps, it is fine to feel a little foolish after making a small mistake, so that we remember to not make the same mistake again. But afterwards, what good does it do to ruminate and think about it? But I remember it, and it causes me some further mental pain. 

Now, those are all small trivial examples, but imagine applying it to other things – trauma, abuse, thoughts of suicide and of extreme low self-esteem, stress. The suffering that follows from reflecting ruminating and thinking conceptually about the past, or worrying and muddling in our head our anxieties about the future and what could be, in many ways we create for ourselves. If I was aware that I was having those thoughts about the minor mistakes when they popped into my mind, I could say,

“Aha. There is a thought – that was in the past, and this is now.” 

And indeed, the thought would pass. It would. But instead, I thought about it more and more, I followed after those thoughts, so to speak. 

I know that mindfulness is a spectrum and that I am just beginning my journey. Now, I am certainly not an expert. But I hope that in reading this, you might consider how mindfulness could be a good thing to try; I am confident from my few experiences practicing that it is very worthwhile, and I am just a beginner myself. 

I hope that you consider starting, picking back up, or supporting your own mindfulness journey with us at Sean’s House.  We will be running our first mindfulness session at 136 West Main Street from 4-5 p.m. at Sean’s House this Sunday, June 13th 

With open arms, I invite you to join.