Talk to someone you trust
It might feel hard to start talking about how you’re feeling, but many people find that sharing their experiences can help them feel better. It may be that just having someone listen to you and show they care can help in itself.
If you aren't able to open up to someone close to you, there are LGBTQIA+ helplines you can call, such as Switchboard or you can reach out to the team locally at Hart Gables
Making connections with people who have similar or shared experiences can be really helpful. This could be other people with mental health problems, or other LGBTQIA+ people, or both.
There are lots of different ways you can do this.
Stonewall has an online directory searchable by your postcode.
Some organisations run LGBTQIA+ staff networks. If such a group doesn't exist at your workplace, but you'd like to set one up, see Stonewall's booklet on setting up network groups.
Ethincally diverse groups
Religious and faith groups
The Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG) website lists organisations supporting LGBTQIA+ people from different religious and faith groups.
Self-care is the things we do for ourselves to help improve our mental and physical health.
Internalised homophobia, biphobia or transphobia might mean you struggle to be kind to yourself. Practising self-care can help boost your self-esteem.
Here are some ideas that may help.
Try joining an LGBTQIA+ specific group
This could be anything from a community project to a hobby group. The important thing is to find an activity you enjoy to help you feel motivated
Volunteering can make you feel better about yourself and less alone. You could volunteer for an organisation supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. Or you could volunteer for any other cause you feel passionately about.
- Your local Volunteer Centre and the charity Do-It can help you find an opportunity in your area.
- The Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Voluntary and Community Organisations has an online directory of opportunities.
Think about your diet and sleep
Improving your diet and the quality of your sleep can have a positive impact on your mental health.
Exercise can help improve your mood. You can exercise by yourself, or you could try joining an LGBTQIA+ sports group. You can find a group using Pride Sports' LGBT+ Sports Club Finder.
Try to avoid recreational drugs and alcohol
You might want to use these to cope with difficult feelings, but heavy use of alcohol or drugs can make existing mental health problems worse. It may also contribute to new ones. You can find more information and support from:
- the FRANK website
Look after your sexual health
Sexual health is an important part of your physical and mental health. Poor mental health can contribute to you taking risks with your sexual health, but this can have long-term health consequences. Living with a long-term health condition can also affect your mental health. For example, depression is more common among those of us living with HIV. You can find more information and support from the LGBT Foundation and the Terrence Higgins Trust.
Speak to your GP
Your doctor is there to help you with your mental health, as well as your physical health. They could:
- make a diagnosis
- offer you support and treatments, such as talking therapies, and possibly medication
- refer you to a specialist LGBTQIA+ mental health service, if one exists near you.
Do I have to tell them I'm LGBTQIA+?
Opening up to a doctor about your personal thoughts and feelings isn't easy for anyone. Being LGBTQIA+ can make it feel even harder. There are lots of reasons to not want to come out as LGBTQIA+ to your doctor when you talk to them about your mental health, and lots of reasons you might feel anxious about what will happen if you do.
You don't have to tell your doctor that you're LGBTQIA+ to get their help, But if you do, they might find it easier to get you the right support.
If you do decide to tell them, you could rehearse what you will say first with someone you trust. An
LGBTQIA+ helpline such as Switchboard could also help you practise this conversation.
Specialist organisations exist that provide mental health support to LGBTQIA+ people. Services they may provide include:
- helpline and email advice
- talking therapies and counselling
Many of these services employ staff or recruit volunteers that identify as LGBTQIA+.
To find local services you could try:
- Mind's Infoline
- The Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Voluntary and Community
- Organisations searchable directory of services