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Interview with 42nd Street on IDAHOBIT

IDAHOBIT: Interview with 42nd Street

Today marks International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, drawing attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics. This year's powerful IDAHOBIT theme is Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing! The theme was chosen due to the recent challenges that the world has faced this past year and the long-lasting impact the pandemic will have on social activism and the fight for equal rights.

42nd Street is an innovative Greater Manchester young people’s mental health charity with 40 years’ experience of providing free and confidential services to young people who are experiencing difficulties with their mental health and emotional wellbeing. 42nd Street’s Vision is inclusive accessible mental health services for all young people. 42nd Street’s Mission is to support young people aged 11-25 years with their emotional well-being and mental health, promoting choice and creativity. We champion young person centred approaches that demonstrate local impact and have national significance.

1. Tell us about 42nd Street and the Q42 Project.

42nd Street has been a Young Person’s Charity for 41 years, working in Manchester, Trafford, Salford and Tameside with 13 – 25 year olds (11+ in schools). Our work deals primarily with anxiety, depression, self harm, and suicidal thoughts. We offer counselling, therapy, psycho-social support, CBT and more through creative projects, identity groups, campaigning, face to face support, and online support such as text based and video options. Approximately 40-50% of young people working online identify as LGBTQ+.

The Q42 Project is a safe and social space for LGBTQ+ young people aged 13-18 to connect on a weekly basis and get support with their LGBTQ+ identities, their emotional health and wellbeing, and how these intersect. Through the Q42 Project we have also created q42.org.uk, an online resource for LGBTQ+ young people by LGBTQ+ young people. To learn more about the Q42 Project and the many valuable opportunities it affords LGBTQ+ young people in Greater Manchester, please check out: https://www.42ndstreet.org.uk/q42.html

2. What are the particular challenges that LGBTQ+ people might face that could impact their mental health? For example, how does homophobia, biphobia and transphobia impact mental health?

Any form of queerphobia, be it homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, can have a direct impact on an LGBTQ+ person's mental health. This could include mistreatment at both school and at home, deadnaming, negative social media and media portrayals, and the challenges of both coming out and/or staying in the closet. For LGBTQ+ young people, this may lead to struggles with a sense of self-worth, difficulties coping with stress, an unwillingness to be vulnerable, an inability to form or maintain healthy relationships (or end unhealthy relationships), and life-long shame and trauma. Without positive affirmations and representation, this then continues in a vicious cycle.

3. What can LGBTQ+ people do/ what resources can they access to help improve their mental health?

There is a wide variety of resources and support that 42nd Street offers, including both face to face and online counselling, and our group and creative projects. For more information, please visit the website. If an LGBTQ+ person is not ready or unable to access mental health services, then here are 5 ways to wellbeing that might help:

  • Connect. Whether in-person or online, find your safe people and spend time with them. Listening and sharing can be really beneficial.
  • Give. It's nice to receive things, but giving can also be really healing. This could be anything from giving time and attention, to giving gifts or good deeds.
  • Take notice. Focus on all five senses, being mindful of what you can see, smell, taste, hear, and feel, and just be present in the moment.
  • Keep learning. Learning is so good for your brain, whether it be a new instrument, a language, or a crafting skill, try something new today!
  • Be active. Take care of your body to the best of your abilities, whether it be a gentle stroll or some competitive sports.
By taking care of your mental health, you may find improvements for the following in your life:
  • Secure attachment experiences
  • Good communication skills
  • Having a sense of control
  • Problem-solving skills
  • A positive attitude
  • Experiences of success and achievement
  • A capacity to reflect
  • An ability to manage stress or adversity
  • Physically healthy
  • Self-esteem, confidence
4. What advice do you have for non-LGBTQ+ people to help support LGBTQ+ people with their mental health? Including family, friends, but also professionals working with LGBTQ+ people?

Here are our top five tips for supporting LGBTQ+ people!
  • Affirm! Affirm! Affirm! Positive external affirmation and representation is so vitally important!
  • Proactively create opportunities for people to share their identities, especially pronouns. When someone tells you their pronouns, be sure to get these right! If you don't understand an identity, feel free to be curious, but don't be interrogative.
  • Be a role model if you can, whether as a fellow LGBTQ+ person or as an ally.
  • Balance out heteronormative and cis-normative narratives. This includes promoting intersectional LGBTQ+ representation wherever you can.
  • Remember that coming out happens over time and many times, create opportunities to make this easier!

5. What resources/ support do you offer as an organisation? Please feel free to share any links with us to promote on our blog.

Other than the services outlined above, we also have resources for professionals. In collaboration with Salford Youth Service, 42nd Street has recently published Visible Justice: An LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Handbook. With easy to navigate sections that touch on a variety of subjects from foundational concepts to complex issues to practical resources, Visible Justice is a handbook providing productive and accessible tools for LGBTQ+ inclusion. This beginner's guide can also be purchased alongside training in Inclusivity and Supporting LGBTQ+ Young People with their Emotional Health and Wellbeing. For more information about the handbook and our training, please visit: https://shop.42ndstreet.org.uk/visible-justice-an-lgbtq-inclusivity-handbook
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