Features / mental health

Improving mental health support for LGBTQ+ people

By lowie trevena, Wednesday Sep 16, 2020

A new group facilitated by the Independent Mental Health Network (IMHN) will aim to create positive change for LGBTQ+ people seeking mental health support.

The dedicated steering group for members of the LGBTQ+ community in the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire will create a safe space for queer people to raise issues within local mental health resource.

The LGBTQ+ Mental Health Lived Experience Steering Group first formed to scrutinise the local mental health system’s response to the mental health and wellbeing needs that have resulted from the coronavirus pandemic, within the LGBTQ+ community.

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The group hopes to not only create a place for LGBTQ+ people in Bristol and the surrounding areas to voice concerns, but also bring change to how local queer people are supported with their mental health.

In time, members will speak with health authorities, health commissioners, local authorities and service providers, with an aim to create positive, long lasting change for LGBTQ+ people in Bristol and beyond.

“No one should fear discrimination and hate when seeking support for their mental health, yet the LBGTQ+ community is one of many that have had their voices ignored and have been pushed to the side,” says steering group member Evie. “This group is a space for professionals and service users to collaborate and create the change that is much needed.”

The new steering group hopes to create positive change for those seeking mental health support. Photo: Dan Sheppard

Sam, another member, adds: “Mental health support for the LGBTQ+ community isn’t sufficient for us, or for professionals who engage with us. We recognise the need for honest conversations and collaboration, to start healing the divides for everyone.

“This is what the steering group is for. It’s a space to talk about and tackle the issues within mental health that our community faces.”

The group is meeting regularly and is already for projects and a series of talks taking place in late 2020, raising awareness of the gaps in mental health support and services for the LGBTQ+ community.

“We are proud to be supporting the new LGBTQ+ Mental Health Lived Experience Steering Group – it is essential that members of our LGBTQ+ community in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have a safe space to share their experiences of trying to access mental health support,” says Tom Renhard, CEO of IMHN.

Tom Renhard is proud to support the new group. Photo: Tom Renhard

“The dedication of the group will certainly pave the way for worthwhile change in local mental health services, so watch this space.”

Main photo: Jack Joseph

Read more: New LGBTQ+ mental health and counselling service launched

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