Let’s celebrate LGBT+ History Month, but realise we have some way to go…
My Inaugural Blog as Dorset Mind’s CEO shares some personal thoughts on how far we have come. But reflect on how far we still must go to support our community as we celebrate LGBT+ History Month.
The thoughts I share in this blog are my own and I believe, as is the case with mental health, we are experiencing the emergence of a generational shift towards understanding, that LGBT+ History Month is for everyone to celebrate.
Pride and the LGBT+ community
2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the very first Pride March in the UK. There is no doubt that society is vastly different from 1972. There is no denying that the LGBT+ community is in a hugely different place to then.
However, it is important that we never become complacent; the battles, injustices and prejudices having been experienced by the LGBT+ communities must never be forgotten. And, as we move forwards, I believe very strongly, there is work to be done. To reiterate our inclusive vision for Dorset Mind: “We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem in Dorset gets support and respect.”
An example of this came to mind, from my hometown of Leamington Spa, which recently painted a pelican crossing in rainbow colours, to express solidarity with the local LGBT+ communities; and to raise their profile as well as to promote Leamington Spa as a safe and welcoming place for LGBT+ people to live in.
A popular slogan of the early Gay Rights Movement was “the personal is political” and over the past 50 years the rainbow image has become synonymous with sexuality, and gender identity and LGBT+ rights, as well as more recently being used to promote kindness in the community and support the NHS.
However, the town’s community neighbourhood Facebook page had to be taken down. This was due to the amount of negative, homophobic and disrespectful comments that were shared when people celebrated and congratulated the town council for promoting the town as LGBT+ proud and inclusive. Needless to say, I must repeat myself – although incredible progress has been made in 50 years, the fight is far from over.
Research shows that mental health problems, like depression and anxiety, are two or three times more common in LGBT+ people and these communities are also at a greater risk of suicide, with worrying stats such as these below (source: Stonewall, 2018):
- One in eight LGBT people aged 18-24 (13%) said they’ve attempted to take their own life in the last year.
- Almost half of trans people (46%) have thought about taking their own life in the last year. 31% of LGB people who aren’t trans said the same.
- 41% of non-binary people said they harmed themselves in the last year. This compares to 20% of LGBT women and 12% of GBT men.
As professionals working in the field of mental health, we all have an obligation to stay informed. We must be aware and to remain focussed on the issues which impact the mental health and wellbeing of all Dorset communities. I urge everyone to take part in activities to celebrate LGBT+ History Month and continue to help us move forwards to a more inclusive future.
Our guest blogger:
Huge thanks to our CEO, Linda O’Sullivan for writing her first blog post for us! And celebrating such an important month too.