Category Archives: Mental Health

LGBT Helpline Scotland launches new online chat box service

Friday, December 14, 2018

Our national LGBT Helpline Scotland is delighted to announce the launch of a pilot online chat box service. The 6-month pilot for LGBT adults, their families and supporters across Scotland, will run until the end of October 2018.

Despite positive steps in regards to equality legislation and public attitudes, many LGBT people throughout Scotland can still feel isolated. People contact the helpline seeking emotional support or information on a range of topics including sexual health, hate crime, coming out, housing, difficulties with relationships and mental health issues. We have a trained, non-judgmental and friendly team of staff and volunteers to respond to anyone getting in touch.

Stephen McCabe (Helpline Coordinator) explains that:

 

The new service is available weekly on a Tuesday from 3-9pm by visiting our website at: www.lgbthealth.org.uk

Mental Health Awareness Week

Friday, December 14, 2018

Written by our ever amazing volunteer: Lenka Murova.

You might have noticed that conversations around mental health have been more prominent on social media recently. The annual #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek kicked off on Monday 14th of May this year, putting the emphasis on ‘stress’ and how we cope with it. People have been sharing their experiences of struggles and small victories with their mental health which is such an important part of making progress in helping to destigmatise mental health issues, to actually talking about them.

If you find yourself struggling, you might not even realise that it could be due to a mental health issue. I say this from personal experience as I’ve found myself having trouble being in crowds where I would feel like I was suffocating. I would lose motivation and would always find myself tired, not finding joy in the little things I used to. I thought that spontaneously bursting into tears and not being able to breathe seemingly without reason, was just me being overdramatic. So I ignored it, but it kept getting worse and worse and eventually, it felt like I was slowly suffocating.

Thankfully, as I am a child of the internet, I stumbled onto a blog that talked about mental health. I started reading about people’s experiences similar to mine and suddenly, I had a direction where to look for help. I went to see my first therapist when I was sixteen years old. I had no idea what I was doing, I was scared and thought I was making an embarrassing mistake. I am twenty three now and after years of not knowing what was wrong with me, I have words to describe what I can go through: anxiety and depression. Looking back, it should have been obvious but nobody around me has ever talked about this. The environment that I grew up in just made me feel useless and broken for not being able to just ‘get over it’.

So from my experience, raising awareness about mental health is nothing to scoff at. I simply didn’t know and had no idea that mental health was something that needed to be looked after. I thought that having a panic attack was normal for everyone (that or I was just weird). Being aware of your mental health is so important, because having to deal with these issues can be very isolating. After all – it’s just in your head, right? Talking about mental health issues, reading stories from others who struggle with it can all help at making people feel less alone.

Everyone has a unique experience with mental health and there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you think you need to. There are many resources out there that you can turn to. You can be sure of one thing, you are not alone, even if it often feels like it. Looking after yourself isn’t just about taking care of your physical health, it includes your mind as well.

Personally for me, it is important to be surrounded by people who care and understand, so I can build myself a support system. But I also understand that not everyone can have access to one which is why I love the opportunity to volunteer with LGBT Health and Wellbeing. I am so glad I can contribute in a small way to an organisation that focuses on supporting our community by providing a safe space where people can ask for help.

Just like anyone, I have good days and I have bad days, and I am learning to know how to ask for help when I need to. Well I’m trying, so I hope you give yourself the chance to try as well.


Useful resources:

  • At LGBT Health and Wellbeing, we:
    – run a helpline that is open every Tuesdays and Wednesdays, between 12 and 9pm: 0300 123 2523
    – offer one-to-one meetings for people to find out more about mental health supports available and what services might best meet their needs
    – offer counselling
    – a programme of social events promoting positive mental health and wellbeing
  • The Mental Health Foundation has a comprehensive list of different resources and places you can contact to seek help.
  • Campaign organisations like See Me Scotland and Scottish Association for Mental Health create great social media campaigns which people can take ownership of to raise awareness within their community.
  • If you are looking for an interesting conversation and artistic expression that aims to destigmatise mental health, check out Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and their wide variety of events across Scotland.
  • There are also publications that work tirelessly to give voices and provide a platform for stories around mental health that often don’t feature in mainstream narratives:
    Marbles: an independent print magazine
    FearlessFemme: an online magazine for young femme and non-binary people

LGBT Inclusive Mental Health Services | New Guide

Friday, December 14, 2018

A drive to improve mental health services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people has begun today with the launch of a new guide by the Mental Welfare Commission.

The guide, which was co-produced with LGBT Health and Wellbeing, has been launched in a bid to increase awareness of LGBT rights amongst mental health professionals, and help health and social care services to deliver more person-centred care and support.

It aims to address inequalities in the support and treatment of LGBT people across Scotland’s mental health services, and features a number of recommendations for making services more accessible and LGBT-friendly. Copies will be sent out to all psychiatric wards in Scotland, as well as primary care and community services.

Dr Gary Morrison, Executive Director (Medical) at the Mental Welfare Commission said:

 “We are excited to announce the publication of our new guide on LGBT inclusion in mental health services.

“LGBT people experience higher rates of mental disorder and are much more likely to think about suicide or self-harming. They are also more likely to have negative experiences when accessing mental health services.

“We hope that by producing this guidance we can help eliminate discrimination against LGBT people in mental health services, and equip health and social care professionals with the information they need to provide the best possible care and support.”

Maruska Greenwood, Chief Executive at LGBT Health and Wellbeing, said:

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Commission on this guide. Through our work with LGBT people we know the tremendous positive difference it makes to individuals to be able to engage with service providers who do not make assumptions, judge or stigmatise them because of their minority sexual orientation or gender identity. We hope this guide will reach new audiences with the important message that acceptance and inclusion are key to supporting LGBT people experiencing poor mental health.”

Catherine Somerville, Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager at Stonewall Scotland, also supported the launch of the guide:

“It is really positive to see the Mental Welfare Commission putting in place this much needed guidance to support mental health professionals to better meet the needs of their LGBT patients. Our research suggests that half of mental health workers, including counsellors, psychologists and psychotherapists do not recognise the relevance of sexual orientation to someone’s health needs (Unhealthy Attitudes, 2015). This guidance is an important step forward to make sure that LGBT people can access mental health services with confidence.”

The document is available here.

Note to Editors

The rate of suicidal ideation and self-harm for LGBT people is 20-25%, compared with 2.4% for the general population.

Jamie Wilson  0131 313 8782