Members of the LGBT community who also experience ongoing mental health disorders may face unique challenges. Finding a path to coming out, or finding your place in the LGBT community, while also managing your emotional health along with the demands of a social life, school and work can feel overwhelming. One of the best resources on campus for finding community, support, and other resources is the Spectrum Center, which focuses on student-centered education, outreach, advocacy and support within the framework of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Tip: Connect with the Spectrum Center
Located in the Michigan Union and open Monday-Friday from 9am-6pm, the Spectrum Center serves as a key resource to the U-M community. Find information on events, support groups, educational outreach, volunteer opportunities, and LGBT friendly housing.
Tip: Visit MiTalk to find information about what to expect and helpful things to consider when coming out.
Coming Out can be a scary, yet liberating experience. It’s not uncommon for LGBT-identified or questioning students to struggle with decisions around who to be open with, how, where and when to come out.
Check out one of the Coming Out Groups at the Spectrum Center
Hear from other students about What It’s like to be YOURSELF at UofM in this web series created by the Spectrum Center.
Each year, the Spectrum Center offers two coming-out groups: one in the fall semester, and another in the winter semester. This is a closed and confidential ten-week discussion and support group which helps participants explore a variety of coming-out issues. It is intended for people who are questioning their sexuality and/or people in the early stages of their coming-out process. Topics include exploring same-sex attractions, issues of self-esteem, and coming out to self, friends and family, as well as other topics related to these issues. People of all genders are welcome, ages 18 and up. Free and open to the public. Capacity of 12 people per group.
- Coming Out Guidance Perspective Support (GPS)
GPS is a tool for LGBTQ and similarly-identified students to use as they are navigating their way out of the closet. The GPS Program provides students with Guidance to helpful information and resources, Perspective
Feelings of Isolation
Feelings of isolation can contribute to symptoms of depression or anxiety. Connecting with others is an important way to take care of your emotional health. Here are some things you can do to connect with others:
Join a student organization
Joining a student group can help you develop a support system and connect with other students who share your interests.
- To find a group with similar interests as your own, visit Maize Pages, or attend Gayz Craze, Festifall, or Northfest, large events held each year to showcase student groups on campus.
- Easily find a list of LGBTQ and ally student groups, including graduate student groups, through The Spectrum Center.
Take Advantage of Support Programs
The Spectrum Center offers a number of free support programs and mentoring opportunities:
- Partners of Transfolk Group: This group meets bi-weekly in an open, drop-in forum format, with the goal to provide support and community for people of all genders to discuss and explore their relationships with trans-identified or gender non-conforming individuals in a safe environment. The group is open to people currently or formerly in partnerships with trans-people.
- Gender Explorers: A social and support group for transgender, transsexual, gender queer, and TG-questioning people and those who transgress gender binaries. This safe, open, and affirming space includes discussion and fellowship. Trans-friendly family, friends, and significant others are also welcome.
- Riot Youth Mentoring Program: The Riot Youth Mentoring Program connects University of Michigan LGBTQ and Ally mentors with LGBTQ and Ally youth from Ann Arbor's Riot Youth Program through the Neutral Zone. This program offers college students the opportunity to connect with youth, engage in social change, and build a stronger community of LGBTQ individuals through support and positive interactions. The program consists of small and large group activities designed around the interests of the youth and the mentors.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) also offers free support groups:
- Gender Identity and Transgender: This supportive and therapeutic group is designed for University of Michigan students who are questioning or exploring their gender identity and for those who may consider themselves gender-variant. The focus of this group is to create a safe and confidential space to discuss identities, coming out, navigating life in college, relationships with friends and family, dating, career concerns, and other topics of interest to group members.
- Lesbian, Bi, Queer & Questioning: This supportive and therapeutic group is designed for women who love women, regardless of identities or labels. Group members work to create a safe and confidential place to discuss identities, communities, coming out, self-esteem, relationships, sexuality, the “isms” and other topics of interest to group members.
- LGBTQ Grad: This group focuses on ways sexual and gender orientations and identities interact with the unique challenges of being a graduate student.
Feelings of Depression, Anxiety, or Other Mental Health Issues
If you are struggling, you are not alone. It is important that you tell someone about your symptoms. Counseling and Psychological Services provides free counseling services for enrolled U-M students. At a counseling session, you have the chance to talk about your concerns with someone in a safe, friendly, and culturally sensitive environment. If you’re worried about making your first appointment, view this video to see what the process looks like.
Don’t get discouraged if there is a long wait time for an appointment. You can always speak with CAP’s Counselor-on-Duty (734-764-8312) for urgent matters, and there are many free support groups that can help you to manage your mood while you wait for your appointment.
If you find that you aren’t connecting with your counselor, don’t be afraid to talk to him/her about it or ask to see someone else. For treatment to work, you need to feel comfortable sharing information. Some people find that it takes a few tries to find the provider that is the right ‘fit.’ Find other tips for making the most out of your appointment here.
Learn about topics which impact student mental health and connect with other students at the free Campus Mind Works drop-in education and support groups. Held twice monthly, these groups aim to provide an extra layer of support for students with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. They begin with a presentation on topics which impact student mental health, followed by a facilitated support group session to discuss challenges faced when coping with depression, anxiety, and mood swings; share successful strategies for managing illness in the context of college life; and connect with other students who may have similar experiences.
Finding ways to take care of your physical health can help you to feel better and prevent or manage mental health symptoms. Check out the self-care section of this website for tips and tools to help you track and manage your physical and emotional health.
A blog designed for U-M students in the LGBTQ and allied community to share their unique experiences.
- University of Michigan Housing
University of Michigan provides the opportunity for LGBT students who feel safer in a gender neutral environment to request such an arrangement for their housing. Note: Housing opportunities with fellow LGBT-identified students can also be arranged through the spectrum center.
- University of Michigan Online Hate Crime Reporting System
In an emergency, dial 9-1-1. Hate crimes may be reported to the Dean of Students' Office and/or Office of Institutional Equity via this online email system. Information may be submitted anonymously and is considered confidential to the extent permitted by law and/or consistent with the University's mission. You may also call during regular business hours at 734.615.BIAS (2427).
- The Jim Toy Community Center
Jim Toy, the founder of the Spectrum Center, uses this center as a resource for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied residents of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and greater Washtenaw County. The Jim Toy Community Center is a resource center that exists to provide information, education, social events, and advocacy by and for the Queer and Ally community in the Washtenaw County area. JTCC welcomes all who support its mission to participate in its activities.
- The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
A popular website for Michigan’s LGBT online community, featuring an interactive calendar of events, resources, and Between The Lines, Michigan’s only weekly newspaper for the LGBT market.
- The Common Language Bookstore
Sells LGBT themed books and is located at 317 Braun Ct in downtown Ann Arbor.