Why an LGBTQIA+ group?

“Why do you have a LGBTQIA+ Wellbeing group?”

Here, our LGBTQIA+ Project Worker, Steven, takes a look at some of the reasons why we provide a safe space for LGBTQIA+ and questioning people to come together to talk. Please note that this article contains some information about suicide.

With so much stigma still surrounding mental health, it is understandable that so many people still feel that they are not able to open up about how they are feeling. Some don’t have friends or family and are very isolated, some don’t have the type of relationship where they can open up to loved ones and others may feel they will be a burden.

Often, many people will continue to suffer in silence. Poor mental health can have an impact on all aspects of our lives from our education to our ability to work, our relationships, the way we are able to interact with people, our self esteem and it can effect our physical health too. The list goes on and on. Left untreated, stress, anxiety and depression amongst many other things can have devastating consequences. 

According to ONS, in 2020, suicide was the main cause of death for 10.0 per 100,000 people and within this, around three-quarters of registered suicide in 2020 were for men. The England and Wales male suicide rate was 15.4 deaths per 100,000 and for females, the rate was 4.9 deaths per 100,000.

Within this data, we see that males and females aged 45 to 49 years had the highest age-specific suicide rate with 24.1 male and 7.1 female deaths per 100,000.

52 percent of LGBT people said they had experienced depression in the last year

If you are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, then it is possible that you have experienced various forms of discrimination, you may have found it very difficult to come out or perhaps you haven’t come out yet. You may be feeling or have felt confusion and pain whilst trying to understand parts of your identity. You may be carrying trauma from your past experiences or you might be in the middle of a very difficult time in your life. We know that there is still a lot of hatred and misunderstanding towards our community and sadly, discrimination is still very rife today. You wouldn’t be alone if you are feeling or have felt shame, fear, isolation and are inferior to those around you simply for being the person that you are.

Looking at the some of the statistics which came from the 2018 Stonewall health report where they commissioned YouGov to carry out a survey asking more than 5,000 lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people across England, Scotland and Wales about their life in Britain today, it is scary to see how many of us are struggling with our mental health.

For example, the report found that 52 percent of LGBT people said they had experienced depression in the last year and one in eight LGBT people aged 18-24 said they had attempted to take their own life in the last year. They also found that around 46 percent of trans people had thought about taking their own life and 31 percent of Lesbian, gay and Bisexual people who aren’t trans said the same.

The report also found that forty-one percent of non-binary people said they had harmed themselves in the last year.

Unfortunately, I am not shocked by the number of LGBTQIA+ people who are struggling with their mental health but it cannot just be me that finds these numbers alarming and I feel that this is solid proof that this community is in desperate need of more support.

Whilst we live in a country which is (hopefully) on its way to becoming more accepting of both mental health and LGBTQIA+ people, perhaps some people wonder why a group like our LGBTQIA+ group needs to exist. The truth is, it can be hard to open up about what you are going through with someone who does not share many of the experiences that you have had.

Yes, it is great that we have more representation now than ever before and more people are using their platform to bring about change and equality, but we still have a long way to go and having a safe space to talk is important. A lot of people still don’t understand that homophobia, transphobia, Aphobia, Biphobia, amongst many more, are still very real issues.

I truly believe that being in a space with people from your own community and celebrating and uplifting people from within that community is an amazing thing. I also think that being able to talk openly about how you are feeling and what is going on in your life is a great opportunity to heal and to release some pressure. This should not be something to feel ashamed about, this is not a place of judgement and really, we all just want to feel supported and empowered. Sometimes we just need a space to speak openly, uninterrupted and not have anyone telling you what you should or shouldn’t do or telling you how to feel.

I really don’t think we should underestimate the power of talking. Of course, there are going to be people who need a lot more support than just conversation but if this is the first step we can take towards improving our mental health and wellbeing then we really shouldn’t underestimate the power of communication. 

I truly believe both being LGBTQIA+ and being able to share your experiences and your feelings is something to celebrate. Whilst our mental health, gender or our sexual orientation does not define us as a person, they are part of who we are and these should not be something to hide.

There are many people in life who will tell us that we are wrong or that we should just get over things but I have two things to say… Being your true authentic self is not something to feel ashamed of, you are incredible, you are who you are supposed to be and you deserve to be happy, to be safe and to thrive. The second thing I want to say is, if it was that easy to just get over something, none of us would have any problems and those statistics would be much, much lower. 

So whether it’s a friend, a family member or our Wellbeing group, talk. There are many people who care and want to listen. There may be times when you feel alone and that there couldn’t be a person in the world who understands how you feel, but if we open up, you never know who is going through something similar and can relate to you. If you want to talk about your mental health, wellbeing, an experience you have had, discuss where you are on your journey or anything you are uncertain about, feel free to come along and talk to us.

Feel free to take a look at some of our other LGBTQIA+ pages by clicking on the images below.

Orange background, text reads 'what to expect from the lgbtqia+ group'
Pink background, text reads 'pronouns'
Teal graphic with the Changes logo and text reading 'Sign up'
Orange background, text reads 'volunteer'
Purple graphic with the Changes logo and text reading 'Pride flas and definitions'
Teal graphic with the Changes logo and text reading 'Coming out'

How can I volunteer?

If you’d like to be a volunteer with Changes Bristol, there are various services you can support.

If you would like to help facilitate any of our Peer support groups, including any of our Safe Space groups, please email info@changesbristol.org.uk

You can also support us as a Befriender in our Befriending Service or volunteer for our Walk and Talk Service. You can email befriending@changesbristol.org.uk for more information.

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