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Mental Health in an Unequal World and its Impact on LGBTQ+ Communities

Sunday 10th October is World Mental Health Day and this year the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) set the theme of ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted inequalities due to race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and the lack of respect for human rights. These inequalities have a huge impact on people’s mental health.

Manchester Pride is a charity that aims to support LGBTQ+ people in a meaningful way. By listening to our audiences, it was clear to us that poor mental health was impacting our community, particularly through the pandemic. We recognise that statistically, LGBTQ+ people are at much higher risk of experiencing poor mental health, and are often faced with difficulties accessing support. In response, we created a programme of initiatives to engage, support and provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ people to connect.

As we plunged into lockdown and were confined to our homes for weeks on end, many LGBTQ+ people faced loneliness and isolation, loss of work and in some cases, bigotry and threat of violence from those they live with. Furthermore, reports suggest LGBTQ+ youths are twice as likely to contemplate suicide.

Recognising the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, we were quick to adapt our Youth Pride MCR offering. Monthly in-person Youth Pride Workshops became bi-monthly online workshops to create regular touchpoints for the young people we engage with. The workshops provide a safe space for young LGBTQ+ people to explore their identity, be their authentic selves and connect with likeminded people from Greater Manchester and beyond.

71% of people who attended a Youth Pride MCR workshop said it helped to reduce social isolation during the pandemic.

“I like meeting new people and feeling included. Coming from a small village, there isn’t many lgbt+ people or activities. Youth Pride has helped me make new friends and feel less lonely.”
- Youth Pride MCR Workshop attendee

We also recognised that LGBTQ+ artists and smaller, independent organisations were in need of desperate support to maintain their practice and in turn, support their mental health. Manchester Pride received Arts Council England Emergency Funding so that we could continue delivering our Superbia programme and supporting the community of LGBTQ+ artists and organisations the project works with.

Manchester Pride supported 16 LGBTQ+ artists and collectives in Greater Manchester with commissions so they could continue to work, develop their creative practices and survive during the pandemic. The Manchester Pride Superbia team provides hands-on, holistic mentorship and support in not just their work, but also with supporting their mental health during these difficult times.

Find out more about how the Manchester Pride charity is supporting Mental Health in an Unequal World by reading our Annual Review and following us on social media @manchesterpride.

Help and resources

There are many fantastic organisations working to assist all LGBTQ+ communities. If you're struggling, we would encourage you to reach out if you feel able to.

LGBT Foundation provides a wide range of support services to lesbian, gay, bi and trans + people. The helpline is open on 0345 330 3030 weekdays 9am-9pm, and weekends 10am-6pm.

Switchboard LGBT provides information, support and referral service for lesbians, gay men and bisexual and trans people – and anyone considering issues around their sexuality and/or gender identity. Switchboard LGBT listens to LGBT+ people, providing a lifeline and calm words to those who need them. You can get it touch on the phone, by email or through Instant Messaging. The helpline number is 0300 330 0630.

The Proud Trust is a life saving and life enhancing organisation that helps LGBT+ young people empower themselves, to make a positive change for themselves, and their communities. It does this through youth groups, coordinating national and regional LGBT+ youth work networks. The Proud Trust has developed an online tool to find your local youth group. You can search for trans-specific, QTIPOC-specific and LGBT+-specific groups.

Micro Rainbow runs safe houses dedicated solely to LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees. 1,500 LGBTI refugees from those countries come to the UK every year. There are several ways to get in touch with Micro Rainbow, and its services such as its helpline is open for those in need of assistance.

Regard is a national organisation of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender and queer people (LGBTQ) who self-identify as disabled. It has created guides for Disabled people and older people, which feature helpful advice for food shopping and how to cope with isolation.

George House Trust provides services to people living with, and affected by, HIV. Its staff will be working from home and will be able to provide one to one support by phone. If you are in need of support, advice or information and would like to speak to someone, you can email talk@ght.org.uk and include your telephone number in your message and the team will call you back.
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