See Me, the national anti-stigma support group claims that members of the LGBTQ community face dual discrimination and have nowhere to turn to for help and members of the community often end up feeling alone and isolated.
The LGBT Health and Wellbeing project, which is funded by See Me, are trying to work at improving mental health awareness and the stigma attached to it within the LGBTQ community.
The project has just recently set up a group in Glasgow looking at how to improve the lives of gay and transgendered people living in the city. They are also looking at ways of discovering where stigma regarding mental health comes from and hope to find ways to overcome them.
Jenny Speirs, who runs the group, said:
A lot of people in the LGBTQ community experience mental health issues but have a lot of barriers accessing service and support groups, unfortunately we know some people do experience homophobia, biphobia and trans phobia when trying to access services. There is a lack of understanding about what needs LGBT people have, there is an assumption that the mental health problems are because they are LGBT, but that isn’t always the case.”
Jenny also believes there is a stigma regarding mental health issues within the LGBT community itself and it isn’t widely talked about. She continued:
There is nowhere in the scene in Glasgow to speak about mental health and it isn’t very welcoming of mental health issues. People feel very judged if they are out, there is no space for discussion. So people face discrimination because of their sexuality and their mental health, but there is no place where they can speak about them both together, they don’t feel able to speak about their sexuality in mental health services and they can’t speak about their mental health in the LGBT scene in Glasgow.”
The group are also running an event at the Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF) on 11th October at the Glad Café in Glasgow, where they will present films on the issue and will have a panel discussion to work out what changes can be made regarding the problem.
Calum Irving, who is the See Me programme director also commented that:
“It is really important that LGBT people have a space in Glasgow they can come together to talk about these important issues. No one should ever have to feel ashamed or embarrassed about their mental health or sexuality and this project is doing great work to not only empower those taking part, but looking to improve the lives of others in the future.”
Big changes need to be made in our own community to support fellow community members who are suffering from mental health issues.
We all face enough prejudice anyway, without stigmatizing our own community members.