Cindy Betz, a licensed clinical social worker said during her teen years before she came out, she didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about being gay.
“I was with my first girlfriend, 18, 19 years old and there was no help,” said Betz. “No therapist, there was just nothing.”
Betz said she saw a need and six years ago she started LGBT Counseling in south St. Louis.
“That is my interest and that is where my heart is,” said Betz. “Most of the clients that I deal with suffer from pretty big depression and anxiety. They struggle all the time.
Betz expects the Orlando mass shooting at a gay nightclub to create even more anxiety within the LGBT community.
“I think the fallout is going to be very deep,” said Betz. “People are going to need a lot of support. My people, they’re the target and they’ve been shaken. I think this is enormously hurtful to an entire population across the world, not just Orlando. Depression, anxiety, even PTSD can be fueled by something like this. It is traumatic.”
As if to illustrate the point, during Betz’s interview she got a phone call from her nephew who had friends in Orlando.
“I just found out that one of the friends was among the 50 killed,” said Betz, fighting back tears. “There are many people who know people who were in there.”
Betz’s advice for people who are struggling in the aftermath of the worst deadly shooting in U.S. history is reach out to friends, family, and mental health professionals.
“Just don’t isolate. Do not isolate. I think that is key.”
Betz said she attended Sunday evening’s march and candlelight vigil in The Grove neighborhood.
“I was part of the March last night, so was my wife,” said Betz. “ The LGBT community population, the queer population gathered and they leaned heavily on each other. That was the right thing to do.”
Betz said she is considering starting some grief counseling groups soon, at little or no cost. She wants anyone shaken by the Orlando massacre to know help is available.
“Just join together, know you’re good, know you’re important, know you’re loved,” said Betz. “This was hatred. This was not you.”
For more information about LGBT counseling, www.lgbtcounselingstl.com.