Pride is a time for us to celebrate Colorado’s vibrant LGBTQ+ population, empower each other, and lean into the joy that this month can bring. But at the same time, we must acknowledge the anti-LGBTQ+ hate and violence that seeks to divide us and instill fear and despair in our communities, as well as the ongoing mental health struggles that many LGBTQ+ individuals face.

As the founder of Envision:You, an organization that seeks to close the gaps in health outcomes for LGBTQ+ Coloradans, I am intimately aware of the barriers that make it difficult for these individuals to lead happy, healthy lives. LGBTQ+ individuals continue to face significant mental health challenges as a result of systemic discrimination, disparities in health care, and the ongoing struggle for acceptance in the face of hate and violence. 

Studies consistently show that LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health issues compared to straight people. These disparities are exacerbated for LGBTQ+ people of color, transgender individuals, and those from low-income backgrounds, highlighting the intersecting factors that contribute to health disparities within the community.

Envision:You surveyed nearly 600 LGBTQ+ residents about their health concerns and experiences, and the findings were staggering. Two in three had seriously considered self-harm at some point in their lives. One in three reported that their health needs were not being met. Additionally, two in five respondents experienced symptoms of a mood disorder, with trans and non-binary respondents more likely to have symptoms and less likely to seek care. It is also important and sad to note that, with the recent political attacks on the community, rates of suicidality are up.

Even in the face of immense challenges, Pride Month ignites a powerful beacon of resilience. It’s a testament to the unwavering spirit of LGBTQ+ individuals and their communities, a spirit that ignited with the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and continues to burn brightly in the fight against discriminatory legislation and rhetoric. This month serves as a necessary reminder of the strength found in unity and the unwavering hope that guides the LGBTQ+ movement towards a more equitable future.

Through my work at Envision:You, I am lucky to witness every day how our people band together, along with our allies, and push forward in our collective pursuit to live authentically, freely, and without fear of discrimination in the face of so many challenges. When I look at what we have accomplished together since 1969, it’s easy to see the possibilities that exist for a brighter future for all of us, and that alone is a salve for dark times. Nothing is more powerful than realizing we don’t have to do it all alone. 

In April, Envision:You merged with Mental Health Colorado, the state’s largest advocacy organization for those experiencing mental health and substance use issues. We’re proud to join an organization that for years has recognized that discrimination and oppression play a key role in our well-being, and regularly advocates for policies to support LGBTQ+ Coloradans. That includes measures to ensure bathrooms in public buildings are gender inclusive, and protect LGBTQ+ children in foster care from discrimination, and giving youth on Medicaid better access to mental health care. 

This merger is a pivotal moment in our work to build collective power and support for LGBTQ+ individuals in every corner of Colorado, and a testament to the fact that we can accomplish more when we work together. For example, this year, Envision:You and Mental Health Colorado worked to improve care for people with eating disorders. Not only are eating disorders one of the deadliest mental health conditions, LGBTQ+ individuals disproportionately experience eating disorders and are less likely to seek care. Colorado Senate Bill 117 included protections for transgender and gender-nonconforming patients in order to ensure eating disorder care is compassionate, inclusive, and gender-affirming. 

We know that many LGBTQ+ Coloradans of all ages and from all walks of life are struggling with their mental health, but there are resources available for anyone who might need support. You can visit, or get the You Flourish app, which connects LGBTQ+ individuals with peer support and vetted mental health professionals. 

This Pride Month, let’s lean into hope. In recognizing how far we’ve come and what we’ve built and achieved together, we can have hope for a better tomorrow where love is love, acceptance is universal, and everyone has a chance at a healthy life. Love and hope are what sustain us through even the darkest of times.

Steven Haden (he/him) is a dedicated advocate for mental health and social justice, focusing particularly on the disproportionate challenges faced by marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ individuals. As Executive Vice President at Mental Health Colorado, he leads efforts to promote equitable access to mental health resources and services. Steven also founded Envision:You, a Colorado nonprofit tackling behavioral health disparities among LGBTQ+ populations. Recently launching You:Flourish, a pioneering wellness app for the LGBTQ+ community, Steven continues to innovate and drive positive change in mental health support systems for all people.