Identity and Its Relationship With Mental Well-Being

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

When asked to define the word “identity,” many think of their name or their job title. But identity is so much more than that—it is the sum of gender, sexuality, culture, ethnicity, and more. How we choose to identify ourselves can affect more than our driver’s licenses, LinkedIn accounts, or social circles—it can impact our mental health.

Audience Questions

Dr. Chase Anderson shares how identity applies to mental health and how we can encourage and support others in discovering their identities.

  • How can we handle microaggression from other disciplines, especially mental health providers? For example: doctors who minimize other clinicians, like psychologists?
  • What does lying about identity do to one’s mental health?
  • Should we stop identifying patients by race? Would it be better for a 33-year-old African American male to just be a 33-year-old male?
  • Is it appropriate for medical professionals to discuss race with patients as it applies to prescribing medications or identifying prevalent symptoms or diagnoses?
  • Were there any bright spots in your training—classes or experiences that were sensitive and thoughtful about identity?
  • Do you think the word “minority” is a microaggression? It may teach people that they come from a lesser position. What do you think about this?
  • As a lesbian, I find myself having a hard time accepting the notion of nonbinary and the pronouns that people are using. What thoughts do you have about my bias?
  • How do we unearth and address our implicit biases?
  • How do you bring up acts of minority discrimination perpetuated by someone who has a minority status? For example, within LGBTQIA+ there is often lesbian trans erasure or reductionism.
  • How can we support others or ourselves when struggling with identity and intersectionality?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.

About Dr. Anderson

Chase Anderson, MD, MS, is a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UCSF Weill Institute of Neurosciences. He completed his psychiatry residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program. His clinical interests include advocacy for LGBTQ+ and URM populations.

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Originally aired August 5, 2020