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How do I talk about LGBTQI+ mental health issues?

Posted by Suzy Wedley on 21 June, 2022

Mental health difficulties can impact anyone, no matter their race, gender, sexuality, age or religion. However, research has shown that members of the LGBTQI+ community are more likely to have experienced poor mental health and suicidal thoughts. There are a number of reasons behind this, including hate crime, bullying and discrimination. On top of this, there is the pressure of trying to live as someone you know you are not, and the pressure of coming out to the people around you. This can have a profound effect on your mental health. Keeping quiet, holding it in, and not being able to be true to yourself can cause feelings of anxiety and depression. There is also the fear of discrimination in healthcare services and the stigma of talking about mental health, which can make it difficult for members of the LGBTQI+ community to break that silence.

 

So, how do you break through those walls?

If you are struggling with any element of your mental health or wellbeing, there are a few different ways you can get some support to help you to feel better again.

Talk to someone you trust

As a TALKWORKS therapist, I often find that at the end of the initial assessment, people say how much better they feel after opening up to someone about their experiences. Being able to express yourself openly in a safe space can be a very powerful thing - so finding someone you trust to begin that conversation, and to practice what you might say to others, can be really helpful. Opening up to a friend or family member is a good first step, and may give you the confidence to reach out for further support if required.

Access support online

There are various different online support groups where you may find support and advice to help improve your health and wellbeing:

  • Switchboard is an LGBT+ helpline, made up of volunteers who all self-define as LGBT+, where you can talk things through, get advice and explore your options.
  • Find your tribe on the Stonewall website where you can search for local LGBTIQ+ support groups
  • Proud2B supports LGBTQ+ people in Devon and facilitates weekly youth groups, 121 youth support and family support groups, as well as other online and face to face support groups.

Visit your GP

Ask your doctor for support – and if you are not happy with one doctor in a practice you can always ask to talk with a different one. It can be difficult to do on your own, so if you are nervous about getting help, you can take a friend or family member along with you.

Self-refer to TALKWORKS

Here at TALKWORKS, our therapists are trained on supporting the needs of people in the LGBTQI+ community. Our service is inclusive and open to anyone over the age of 18, living in Devon. As an NHS service, we value each person as an individual and everyone we see is treated equally. If you are feeling low, anxious or overwhelmed and you’re unsure why, please don’t wait before reaching out and talking to someone. The sooner you reach out for help, the sooner we will be able to help you feel better again. You don’t need to see a GP or healthcare professional to access TALKWORKS - you can simply self-refer via our online form, or by calling us on 0300 555 3344.

 

What if you are supporting someone who is LGBTQI+?

If someone you know in the LGBTQI community wants to talk to you about their mental health, there are a number of different ways that you can support them:

  • Don’t make assumptions – ask what they are going through, but let them take the lead. Everyone’s experience is different, and the most important thing is that they feel heard.
  • Listen to what they are going through. Be aware they are trusting you and may have faced negativity in the past when sharing their story
  • Support them to seek help in the way that they are most comfortable. Don’t push them or force them, but be there for them if they need you.
  • If your child is struggling, think about joining a support group for parents. No matter how supportive you are of your child, this is may be a new experience for you too and it can be very helpful to chat to other parents with similar experiences to you.
  • Increase your knowledge of what it’s like to be struggling – the more informed you are, the more confident you will feel in helping someone you care about.