Scroll To Top
Love, Me

 LGBTQ Director Gerald Garth Opens Up About His Mental Health Journey

LGBTQ Director Gerald Garth Opens Up About His Mental Health Journey

There is still much “miseducation and under-education around mental health,” Garth says. 

"Mental health treatment offers an opportunity to become your best self", says LGBTQ+ and HIV activist Gerald Garth. He had to get over stigma around such treatment, he says, the feeling that seeking it means something is wrong with a person. Having therapy for depression was "an opportunity to align [myself] with support and resources that empower [me] to be [my] best self," he says in a new video for The Advocate's Love, Me series.

Garth grew up in Louisiana in a deeply religious family and felt like he didn't fit in. "I remember really having these heavy feelings of loneliness and isolation and almost helplessness at times," he recalls. He moved to Los Angeles to be an actor and also worked in accounting for a time. He is now director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. He previously spent several years with the AMAAD Institute (Arming Minorities Against Addiction and Disease), which provides programs and services to LGBTQ+ communities of color in South Los Angeles with a focus on HIV prevention and treatment, reentry, and recovery support.

"I consider it such a gift to work with LGBTQ+ youth and young adults and young people," he continues. "I am really grateful that I am able to bring my own experiences and personal journey into the work -- of course, as is appropriate -- because so much of what young queer folk are seeing, especially from my experience, is that heightened isolation. A great deal of my work -- I call it the pre-work -- as it relates to mental health is building self-worth. ... I think stigma, as it relates to health overall, is still very major." There is still much "miseducation and under-education around mental health," Garth says. So being able to get accurate information out in a safe environment is key, he notes.

His experience provides an example of the importance of mental health treatment. "Things do get better," he explains. "When I look back at the me a couple years ago versus the me 30 years ago, I see that quite literally, while it might not have been pleasant every step along the way, it got me to where I am. And it's worth the wait."

Love, Me is The Advocate's editorial, video, and social media campaign aimed at raising awareness around mental health. According to research from the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, LGBTQ+ adults are three times more likely than straight adults to experience a mental health disorder. In fact, 40 percent of LGBTQ+ adults reported having a mental illness in the last year versus 18 percent of straight adults.

Discover previous entries of Love, Me such as speaker Eliel Cruz, viral internet sensation Brendan Jordan, and mental health advocate Kim Saira, and how they speak on navigating their mental health journeys and overcoming their experiences.

If you have or are contemplating suicide, please know there is a well of support out there to help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 can be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities. If you are a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide, the Trans Lifeline can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger). Trained counselors at the Trevor Project Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at (866) 488-7386, by texting START to 678678, or via the TrevorChat instant messaging service at TheTrevorProject.org/Help.

Latest Stories