Pride-oritizing LGBTQ+ Health & Wellness

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In this month’s newsletter we’re reflecting on LGBTQ+ Pride Month, with a special focus on how health and wellness brands can authentically support and engage with LGBTQ+ priorities and voices – and in the process build stronger relationships with their LGBTQ+ customers and community all year long.

Last month, in the midst of LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations, I was scrolling through social media and came across this sobering graphic: 

It’s an important reminder that while Pride is about celebrating historic social progress, community-building, and, of course, having a good time, it’s also an occasion to reflect on individual mental and physical wellness. More specifically the unique challenges to this wellness that members of the LGBTQ+ community face every day.

According to MedPage Today, “LGBTQ youth face significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts compared to their heterosexual or cisgender peers, with 45% having considered suicide and 14% making an attempt in the past year.” Further, “According to a survey of LGBTQ people ages 13-24, the majority (84%) reported wanting counseling from a mental health care professional, yet, more than half of those who wanted it (54%) did not receive it. Only 28% of youth mental health facilities in the U.S. offered LGBTQ-specific services in 2020.” 

It’s not surprising, then, that Fortune reported last year that the LGBTQ+ population is significantly less likely to trust the medical, health, and wellness fields than their heterosexual and cisgender peers.

So how can health and wellness brands use social media to authentically engage with LGBTQ+ individuals who are looking for partners in their own personal well-being?

The number one way is through visibility: despite ongoing (and valid) concerns about inauthentic “Rainbow Capitalism,” social media is awash with enthusiasm and gratitude for brands that take the time to adapt their logos and content to express support for the LGBTQ+ community. These expressions of awareness and support are especially important to people who do not live in major metropolitan areas, and are therefore less likely to see themselves represented on major public platforms.

In tandem with bold graphical content, LGBTQ+ people are eager to see healthcare brands amplify the voices and experiences of their own LGBTQ+ caregivers, experts, and patients. The community wants to know that their unique needs and perspectives are being addressed by people who understand them firsthand, and brands will do well to forefront these perspectives in their online content. This strategy holds especially true when working with micro-influencers: healthcare brands have found great success engaging with their LGBTQ+ patients and customers when they recruit and engage LGBTQ+ ambassadors to share their authentic experiences on the brand’s social platforms.

People First has been privileged to work with several of these forward-thinking groups, including with the NY State Department of Health on their campaign to promote the Mpox vaccine and with AZO on their partnerships with LGBTQ+ Couples.

Health and wellness brands can also grow visibility and promote authentic engagement with the LGBTQ+ community through support of and partnerships with LGBTQ+ oriented community organizations. These kinds of “outside the box” relationships demonstrate to LGBTQ+ consumers that a brand is genuinely concerned about and interested in the wellness of their community, and most importantly, that their desire to engage supersedes the bottom line.

In all of these cases, the key is consistency: it’s wonderful to modify your logo, forefront LGBTQ+ voices, and sponsor a float during Pride Month, but LGBTQ+ people struggle with unique mental and physical health challenges all year long. Health and wellness brands that prioritize diversity, representation, and visibility in their online content (and in their communities) beyond the month of June are proving to the LGBTQ+ community that their interests are not tied to an annual sales opportunity, but are in fact authentic expressions of investment and care.

The progressive financial wellness platform We Are Fully Funded says it best: “Pride is about calling for systemic changes in the way we view, understand, and support queer and trans folks,” and health and wellness brands have the opportunity to lead this call by making an active commitment to authentic engagement with and representation of LGBTQ+ voices and concerns all year long.

That’s the power of putting people first in your marketing.