Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 takes place from 16-22 May

Is it coincidence that IDAHOBiT day, the day we stand against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia is happening during Mental Health Awareness week? Very possibly, it could just be kismet. But it could also be for a very good reason. Just look at the statistics*:

  • LGB people are twice as likely as heterosexual people to have suicidal thoughts or to make suicide attempts
  • LGB people are two to three times more likely than heterosexual people to suffer from depression
  • Over half of gay young people deliberately harm themselves yet the NSPCC estimates that for young people in general it’s between 1 in 15 and 1 in 10.
  • Across all age groups LGB people could be seven times more likely to take drugs

 

LGBT who are not openly out expend great amounts of mental energy concealing their true selves – be that concocting a fantasy life, or actively avoiding any situation or conversation where that element of their life may come up. And that energy has to come from somewhere. I know it’s an age old adage, but unless you have had to do you can’t imagine how hard it is.

But… And stay with me on this journey. Compare it to someone doing squats…… For the first 10/15/20 minutes your legs are fine. But after that the strain kicks in, your muscles fight back but you fight on. The longer you hold that position the harder it gets. Now imagine doing that for years. Your brain and mental agility are just like a muscle .

 

For anyone who has suffered from depression, there are ways to help you learn to cope with it or ease it – be that medication or counselling. I’ll hold my hand up and admit I stand in the camp of you can never cure it. You can manage it and you can learn tricks to combat how aggressive a bout can be. Just like someone who has fractured a bone is more susceptible to breaking that bone again given the right conditions, so certain triggers can set someone with a mental health illness off.

Until we live in a world where everyone is deemed to be equal we are going to carry on seeing these shocking stats.

So join us this Mental Health Awareness Week and IDAHOBiT day and share photos on social media of you holding the hands of the one you love with the hashtag #HoldingHands. Let’s make this a world where everyone, no matter who they are, can hold the hand of those they love.

* – Statistics taken from the Part Of The Picture study completed by the LGBT Foundation. Full details can be found here – http://lgbt.foundation/policy-research/part-of-the-picture/