Ways To Become An Ally
By: Alyssa Bombacino & Joelle Rabow Maletis
June is a very important month in regards to awareness, equity, compassion, and allyship. It’s a time where we can work towards becoming an ally for those in our communities and around the world. There is much work that still needs to be done and we can move this work forward by being mindful and having conversations around Pride Month, Juneeteenth, PTSD Awareness Month, and Men’s Mental Health Month. It’s helpful to be aware of the harmful stigma that is often associated with many of these populations and how that works against equity.
As described by Talisa Lavarry, “Allyship is opening doors for the marginalized that they cannot open for themselves” (Lavarry, 7:49). Allyship is acknowledging these injustices within our world and thinking to ourselves, “What can I do to create change?”, “What doors can I open for others?”. When we start thinking about ways we can create actionable change, this is where true allyship begins.
Another part of being an ally is also being willing to listen and learn. We cannot help solve problems or injustices when we are isolated. Allyship requires us to become aware of the problems faced by certain communities and to develop an understanding of the conditions they live in. It is not simply enough to complete an online course or read an article; we need to immerse ourselves in these underrepresented communities and talk to those who live within them and experience microaggressions on a daily basis.
Most importantly, allyship is an ongoing practice; it is an ongoing journey rather than a one-stop destination. Catherine Hernandez explains, “it is a lifelong journey that must begin in the body (Hernandez, 0:34). Allyship is truly believing within our mind, body, and soul that each of us deserves equal opportunities and taking the steps to create change.
So How Can I Start Creating Change?
- Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable
- In order to support underrepresented populations, we often need to recognize the problems that have been ongoing for centuries and the ways that we may hold the privilege and power.
- Lean into our curiosity and ask questions. Before acting, we must stop and ask why things might be a certain way or why certain communities may face many additional barriers.
- There are many barriers that can affect our ability to succeed, such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, class, and geography.
- Finally, asking ourselves… How can I use my privilege for good?
The awareness dates this month highlight groups that are underrepresented and more likely to be faced with adversity.
Ways You Can Be An Ally For Pride Month
Pride Month honors those who courageously risked their lives to fight for their freedom in June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn (Library of Congress, 2023). This month commemorates the many identities that exist including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and the impact they have had on history. It’s important to note that those within the LGBTIQ+ community are at a higher risk of experiencing negative mental health due to societal pressures to “fit in” and the many forms of social rejection that they may experience on a daily basis. NAMI describes, “Homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, bullying and feeling identity-based shame is often traumatic for people.” Furthermore, a 2022 report from the Trevor Project found that just 37% of LGBTQ+ youth identified their home as LGBTQ-affirming space.
Ways to ally be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community:
- Uplift LGBTQIA+ Voices
- Share or repost information on social media
- Raise awareness about LGBTQIA+ confidential support resources
- Ways that individuals can receive confidential help:
- Calling: 1-866-488-7386
- Texting: 678-678
- Visiting: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
- Ways that individuals can receive confidential help:
- Educate yourself on LGBTQIA+ history and rights
- Advocate for equity and fair rights and laws for all
- Celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and their achievements
- Share your pronouns and ask others their preferred pronouns
Ways You Can Be An Ally For Juneteenth
Juneteenth, honors the day of emancipation of enslaved people. This day acknowledges the intergenerational & historical trauma, systemic racism, and injustices faced by African Americans throughout history (Taylor, 2023). The effects of being persecuted or oppressed can create deep wounds that are passed down intergenerationally. We call this type of trauma historical trauma. Historical trauma is often related to major circumstances that subjugate a group of people because of their status, religion, race, or culture. The trauma is often caused by events that are psychologically and emotionally injurious.
Ways to be an ally to African Americans:
- Learn about the history of Juneteenth and share resources
- Read online articles, books, and poems https://www.nytimes.com/article/juneteenth-day-celebration.html
- Recognize Juneteenth’s origin and importance
- Support and give back to Black Owned Businesses
- Learn about leaders of Black and LGBTQ+ identities
- Volunteer at a Juneteenth event
Ways You Can An Ally For PTSD Awareness Month
PTSD occurs when a person is exposed to or witnesses horrific events such as death, domestic violence, serious injury, abuse, direct exposure to natural disasters, rape, war, or even car accidents, and their bodies stress response kicks into gear. PTSD Awareness Month recognizes the prevalence of this diagnosis and helps to raise awareness about the many forms of treatment that are available for survivors. Unfortunately, being diagnosed with a mental illness is often considered abnormal or taboo, especially in the veteran community. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, about 15% of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have PTSD (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, n.d. ). The individuals diagnosed with PTSD may have difficulty recovering for months or years without proper treatment. Many often report they are ashamed to admit their feelings in fear of being seen as weak.
Ways to be an ally for PTSD survivors:
- Educate friends and family on the prevalence of PTSD and debunk its association with weakness
- Share about mental health resources and nearby trauma-informed clinics
- Call 9-8-8 to reach the suicide and crisis lifeline
- Call 9-8-8 then press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line
- Text 838255
- Visit our website https://joellerabowmaletis.com/
- Spread awareness about PTSD symptoms and the importance of early detection
- Watch Joelle’s TED-Ed video on PTSD.
- Help advocate and support PTSD survivors in your community
- Start a mental health initiative or blog about mental health
Ways You Be An Ally For Men’s Mental Health
Men’s Mental Health is a topic that deserves much attention. Males make up 49% of the population, but almost 80% of all suicides (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). There is a lot of harmful stigma surrounding men’s mental health which can make men feel increasingly isolated and alone. Statistically speaking, men are much less likely to seek help and talk about what they are going through which is why men make up almost ⅔ of all suicides. This harmful stereotype that is perpetuated about men being tough and not having emotions can lead men to feel like they can’t seek help. Men’s Mental Health Month is a time to break down this stigma around men seeking help and to create awareness that men can struggle with mental health issues too. It’s okay for men to seek treatment, speak about mental health, struggle with mental health, and need support.
Ways to be an ally for Men’s Mental Health:
- Encourage them to speak up about mental health
- “Thank you for sharing this with me. Is there anything else you want to talk about?”
- Normalize negative and positive emotions and let them know they are not alone
- “I have also felt that way before when dealing with a similar situation.”
- Educate them on the benefits of therapy and the various people who go
- Let them know that you see them and hear them
- “I hear you and understand how you are feeling”
- Provide validation and support
- “Your emotions and feelings are valid”
2 Ted Talks To Watch on Allyship
- Talisa Lavarry: Your journey to true allyship
- Melinda Epler: 3 ways to be a better ally in the workplace
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Suicide data and statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/suicide-data-statistics.html
Joelle Rabow Maletis. June is PTSD awareness month and the importance of early detection of PTSD within military members and veterans.
Joelle Rabow Maletis. (2022). Trauma, historical trauma, and PTSD awareness. Joelle Rabow Maletis & Associates Inc. https://joellerabowmaletis.com/2022/06/03/trauma-historical-trauma-ptsd-awareness-month/
Joelle Rabow Maletis. (2018). The psychology of post-traumatic stress disorder. TED-Ed.
Library of Congress. (2023). LGBTQIA+ Pride Month: June 2023. United Census Bureau
Taylor, D. B. (2023). Juneteenth: The history of a holiday. The New York Times.
Ted Salon: Brightline Initiative. (2018). Melinda Epler: 3 ways to be a better ally in the workplace [Video]. TED.
TEDxSeattleWomen. (2021). Talisa Lavarry: Your journey to true allyship [Video]. TED.
TedxToronto. (2020). Catherine Hernandez: A guide to lifelong allyship [Video]. TED.
The Trevor Project. (n.d.) Home page.
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. (n.d.). How common is PTSD in veterans?
Davis, E., & Griggs, B. (2019). 7 black LGBTQ+ leaders in honor of Juneteenth and Pride month.