BeLonG To launches new support service to encourage LGBTQ+ youth to talk freely

The new support service launched by BeLonG To provides a safe space where trained volunteers will be there to talk to anyone in need.

BeLong To launched a new support service for LGBTQ+ youth. In the photo, a couple of girls with a Pride flag.
Image: Via Pexels - Pavel Danilyuk

LGBTQ+ organisation BeLonG To launched their new initiative Better Out Than In which offers a support service for young LGBTQ+ people to encourage them to talk about their fears and worries without judgement. The service will provide a safe space where trained volunteers will be there to listen and support anyone in need.

The Better Out Than In campaign was launched on Monday, September 5, with the goal of “letting LGBTQ+ young people know that there are people they can talk to about their worries and fears without judgement – no matter how big or small.”

With this initiative, BeLonG To are offering a free and anonymous 24/7 messaging service for people to have a chat with trained volunteers and get guidance on the next steps to access support. The number to reach this service is 50808. Moreover, they created an online hub to direct young LGBTQ+ people to a range of free and confidential support services that offer help face-to-face, but also online and via phone and text.

Growing up can be challenging and this is especially true for LGBTQ+ youth. Before the launch of the new campaign, BeLonG To conducted discussions with some LGBTQ+ young people to identify what are the main challenges that prevent them from speaking freely about their fears and their feelings of anxiety, sadness and shame.

Here are some of the main reasons why LGBTQ+ youth are reluctant to seek support when in need.

The perception that their problem does not warrant support
Some queer young people believe that their problems and feelings are not important enough and that they shouldn’t ask for support to deal with them. “I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. There are other people with much bigger problems out there,” described one young person.

As BeLonG To explains, the tendency that people have to compare what they’re going through with other people’s pain is called “comparative suffering”. It shouldn’t stop individuals from seeking help because each and every one of us experiences difficult times in different ways and everyone has a right to get support no matter how big or small their challenges are.

Fear of the unexpected
“I’m afraid of seeing a therapist. I have no idea what to expect,” said one of the LGBTQ+ young people. Indeed, some people are deterred from starting therapy because they don’t know what it entails and they’re afraid of facing judgement.

However, therapists are trained to be non-judgemental and if someone chooses to speak to one of them, they can share as much or as little as they like and receive help to understand what is going on, as well as learning the tools to manage their mental health.

Belief that anxiety is normal
Many LGBTQ+ young people perceive that a lot of their peers experience anxiety and sadness, which leads them to believe that those feelings are normal. “Lots of my friends experience anxiety. It’s normal to feel like this,” commented one.

While it is normal to feel like that sometimes, if feelings of anxiety and sadness become frequent and start to impact on a person’s daily life then it’s time to get support.

Challenges of coming out
For queer youth, coming out represents a specific challenge and some of them believe that once they’ve overcome that, their struggles are over. “I’ve come out as LGBTQ+, so I should be happy,” said one.

However, coming out is a process, not an endpoint, and while for some it is a positive, freeing experience, for others it can be challenging as the people around them come to terms with the news. Talking to someone about this process can be helpful in dealing with a time of transition and self-discovery.

Offering spaces for queer youth to share their struggles and seek help to overcome them is at the centre of the work that BeLonG To does. Other than this initiative, earlier this year, they launched a pair of new therapy services for queer young adults and for the parents of queer children. These services offer an opportunity to access a confidential and trusting space to speak freely.

If you wish to know more about the new support service offered by BeLonG To with their new Better Out Than In initiative, check out their webpage here.

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