In light of World Mental Health Day, here are some articles and stories from our Network members:
When I came out at around 15 years old, I didn’t think very much of it; I had always been attracted to men and women and so when I learned the term for it, it was a simple thought process of “oh there’s a word for who I am, that’s ok”. Whilst it helped somewhat with my identity, it still wasn’t a very big deal.
It wasn’t until I came to university and got involved in the LGBT+ that I realised how different others can view me because of this part of my identity. I received a lot more questions about bisexuality, I learned a lot more about gender as a spectrum, as well as having some negativity and ignorance because of my sexuality. I quickly realised how big of a deal things like “coming out” were, and I realised that was why I never came out to my parents; all of my friends new and I was comfortable with myself by the time I reached university, but there were two thoughts I had. One was worrying about whether or not my parents would accept me, and the second was thinking that because both myself and my parents were so relaxed about life that they wouldn’t be bothered by this news.
Although I never came out to my parents, they worked it out. All of my LGBT+ activist posts on Facebook and talking to my family about my role on committee helped them to realise that I wasn’t straight and that LGBT+ rights is something I care very deeply about. The most recent event was my aunty tagging me in a meme relating to LGBT+ rights and food; although I can’t remember exactly what the meme said, the tag itself was confirmation that my family both knew and accepted me.
Coming out is a big deal to some parents/guardians/friends/relatives etc, but it is almost always a big deal to the person coming out. However, being a part of the LGBT+ Network has taught me how important it is to support each other and remind people that there are always people who will love and support them regardless of their orientations and identities. There will always be someone there for you.
Paige (Welfare Officer)
I don’t think my mental health was ever effected by being LGBT, I was really lucky in that I was able to accept it myself and never had an issue telling my immediate family.
I think my main struggle with the LGBT community is that is can be quite insular, it can label sources of support LGBT friendly/ not LGBT friendly and whilst this is important in some cases I’ve seen whole organisations written off because of one persons bad experience that wasn’t even to do with their sexuality or gender identity. I think we need to be better as communities at sign posting and encouraging each other to get help rather than all trying to support each other whilst we’re all struggling ourselves.
I think it is a very valid issue that we turn to our LGBT siblings for support and we don’t turn to the establishment but I think that shows that more LGBT people, at uni etc need to go on signposting training, need to go on mental health first aid training and suicide awareness training so they can be effective peer supporters.
I think those within the LGBT community who are clinicians and researchers need to look at what aspects of the community the professional support systems need to understand and emulate. I strongly disagree that we need specific LGBT services, but I know this is the feeling a lot of people have.
I just want to see more positivity about mental health in the community rather than this acceptance that we’re mostly all ill, we are mostly all dealing with it with x or y or x, we can’t accept that this is just how things are an ‘x went to that service and had a bad experience so I wouldn’t recommend it’ or ‘well I tried x got no support so…’ (With the impotus that you therefore will also not get support).
We can’t just accept that this is our experience, but a lot of the change needs to come from us. Us accessing services, supporting each other to access services and change services to suit us, not simply boycotting them.
We have tonnes of resources on the welfare page of this site. Some of the local services include:
Nightline is a student-run confidential information and listening service. They are on duty between 19:00 and 08:00 during term time, and are there to offer advice to anyone, and about anything! They can help with welfare and healthcare issues, listen to you when all you need is someone to talk to, and are available 24/7 during exam times to help students through the dreaded exam stress! They can also provide taxi and takeaway numbers, and even all-night alcohol delivery details (not that we condone all-night drinking)! Remember: a problem shared is a problem halved. Nightline are there to help you, nothing is too small. They can be contacted by:
The Nottingham Lesbian and Gay Switchboard is a service set up to provide help and advice to LGBT* individuals in all matters including coming out, homo/bi/trans*phobia, sexual and mental well-being and many others. They can also help the families of LGBT* people who come out by providing advice and information. They can be contacted by Phone between 7:00pm and 9:30pm (01159348485 or 01623 621515), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or text (07624 809360).
National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline
T: 0800 999 5428
Emotional and practical support for LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse. Abuse isn’t always physical- it can be psychological, emotional, financial and sexual too. Speak out, don’t suffer in silence.