In England, a quarter of us will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year. One in 15 of us will attempt suicide. For those of us who identify as LGBTQ+, we are between two and three times more likely to report a mental health issue than a straight person.
This issue is incredibly widespread within the bi community; we are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, but resources are not always in place to correctly address our needs. Research suggests that biphobia and homophobia, and a general belief of having a weaker connection to LGBTQ+ communities, can all be contributing factors to the increased numbers.
Despite how pervasive this issue is, personal experience and statistics tell us that many people still don’t know where to go for help or what help is out there. Often bi people feel a sense of isolation, not quite fitting in with straight communities, whilst not always feeling welcome within the LGBTQ+ communities. This isolation often leads to a lack of education on these issues and limits accessibility to resources contributing to feeling there’s no help, but this is not true.
Firstly, any mental health specialist or charity will tell you that you are not alone when struggling with your mental health. You only have to look at the figures to know that this is true. The sheer scale of workers and volunteers who dedicate their lives to suicide prevention and mental health programs also show this. There are literally hundreds of people waiting and wanting to help, it is important to know that there is someone waiting to help and it’s never too late.
Switchboard LGBT+: 0300 330 0630
Are available to call between 10am to 10pm 365 days of the year and even have an online chat function. They specialise in LGBT issues and can provide advice and support.
Samaritans: 116 123
Available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Can provide a safe space to talk and support.
The NHS is also always available, often the first step to seeking counselling and medication is to visit your GP. The visit can determine what the correct next step is for you.
There are also many resources online that provide important and often specialist information on mental health and can facilitate your mental health journey.
NHS website: Find Mental health support services
The website provides a search engine for mental health services in your area.
Provides organised summaries and guidance on specific mental health queries and issues, such as addiction and therapy.
Stonewall – 0800 0502020
Stonewall provides specific services for the LGBT+ community providing information and resources on relevant issues and have recently added an extra webpage with revised advice for COVID-19. They also have a directory for local LGBT services and groups. They also have a specific phone service to provide support and information available 9:30am – 4:30pm Monday to Friday.
After this past year it is important to recognise the impact of loss and bereavement. This is an issue that affects us all but in different ways, but there are many spaces to find support during our grief.
Cruse Bereavement Care – 0808 808 1677
They provide support over telephone, online and in-person, offering advice and support to those who have just lost someone. They have multiple centres all over the country allowing in-person access to their support. They provide specific support to young people, parent and carers and military families but the service is open to anyone.
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) – 0300 111 5065 (available 9am-9pm Monday to Sunday)
They provide specific support for those who have lost people to suicide offering information and support. They also provide information to anyone who may be feeling suicidal, and their website contains a directory of organisations that may be able to help or provide support.
Finally, it is important to emphasise that there is no shame in reaching out for help, in the same way people ask for medical help with physical health it is important to reach out for help with mental health, after all the brain is a muscle and needs to be looked after in the same way as all your other muscles.
Other useful links
Maytree provides phone and email support for those who are suicidal and provides sanctuary, although it is not currently open due to COVID-19, but will re-open soon.
Imaan London is a charity that provides support to LGBTQ+ Muslims.