The recent hit Netflix show, Heartstopper, highlights how LGBTQ+ people struggle with mental health because of how they are viewed and treated in society. Claudia Cahalane, Social Media Manager at charity MindOut, discusses the importance of mental health support for the LGBTQ+ community.
The diverse group of characters portrayed in Heartstopper deal with coming out issues, homophobia, bullying, eating disorders and more. According to the charity Mental Health UK, LGBTQ+ people are 1.5 times more likely to experience depression than the average person. A survey by the charity Stonewall in 2018 found that more than half had experienced depression. It also reported that one in eight LGBTQ+ people aged 18 and 24 had attempted to take their own life that year. For trans people, nearly half had thought about taking their own life.
Heartstopper is partly loved so much because it demonstrates friends, partners and family supporting each other with kindness through difficulties.
LGBTQ+ people are 1.5 times more likely to experience depression. MindOut’s counselling service had 50% more clients last year. This work is vital.
Not everyone has the support demonstrated in Heartstopper, unfortunately. This is where charities come in, like MindOut.
World Mental Health Day on 10th October and National Coming Out Day on 11th October are particularly significant days for MindOut. These dates allow us to highlight and share why we do the work we do.
Our vision is a world where the mental health of LGBTQ+ communities is a priority, free from stigma, respected and recognised. Our slogan is ‘Mind Out for each other’.
We support thousands of LGBTQ+ people every year. We hear stories like: “I literally have no one and nowhere I can go to talk about being a gay man except in the (MindOut) group. I come from a very strict religious family who would not tolerate me being gay. I am a carer for a family member, so I have no option other than to stay quiet. MindOut keeps me connected. I can laugh with other LGBTQ+ people, share stories and experiences, we can support each other and I know I am safe here.”
Last year, with the help of supporters like LGT Wealth Management, we helped to provide:
We also held peer support sessions and a number of groups, such as our 50+ group and another to support LGBTQ+ people on managing work and mental health. This year we’ve introduced more trans groups and support for LGBTQ+ People of Colour.
In addition to the support work, we raise awareness of LGBTQ+ mental health and deliver training on LGBTQ+ inclusion, self-care and suicide prevention.
Demand is high. Our counselling service had 50% more clients in the year 2021-2022 and we are doing our best to keep offering this to as many people as possible as mental health worsens in society. We are now introducing group support sessions with our counsellors for the increasing numbers of people seeking our support.
We rely on donations to deliver these essential services. We were delighted that LGT chose to support us this year with a fundraising event in July.
But, as we draw closer to winter, when mental health often worsens, we will be increasing our efforts to draw in funding. The Mental Health Foundation states that lower levels of light can also lead to depression in winter. We want to keep supporting our community as much as possible over this period when issues such as family rejection and being unable to come out can make for an extremely distressing time for some.
We know we can make a huge difference to our community, particularly over the festive period. One person we supported told us: “My befriender called me on Christmas day. This could have been the bleakest day of the year for me, instead I had someone to talk to who had given up their time for me. What a good feeling.”
MindOut is a charity that works to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all LGBTQ+ communities and to make mental health a community concern. Find out more about MindOut here.
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