We are right in the middle of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, established to put a spotlight on mental health and better support people who struggle with it.
Raising awareness about mental health is of fundamental importance because, despite having come a long way in dismantling the stigma around it, some people are still reluctant to talk openly and seek help.
Moreover, mental health has been a topic of special concern in the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Healthy Ireland (HI) Survey, published in December 2021, found that 30% of respondents said their mental health had declined during the pandemic.
The figures are even more concerning when the focus shifts to LGBTQ+ folks. The LGBTQ+ association for young people, BeLonG To, published research that showed that 97% of the LGBTQ+ youth who participated were struggling with anxiety, depression or stress. Queer people were at greater risk of mental health issues even before Covid-19 hit, but the pandemic has exacerbated these problems.
If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety or stress, the best thing you can do for yourself is seek help. There are numerous organisations and resources that work to provide support to LGBTQ+ folks who struggle with their mental health. Reaching out to them could be the first step towards the long and complicated process of healing.
It's mental health awareness month#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth#MentalHealthMatters#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek pic.twitter.com/XTLyVRtFUr
— Mind Watch Foundation (@MindWatchF) May 7, 2022
There are also other things you can do that could help alleviate stress and that might have a positive impact on your general mental health. For example, research indicates that physical exercise can cause chemical changes in our brain that will improve our mood. Going for a run or a walk outside can make a real difference not only on your physical health, but also on your mental one.
Another thing you could do is talk to someone you trust about what you are dealing with. Vocalising your feelings can provide more clarity about what is going on in your head and it can show you that there are people in your life that are willing to help you, which has the added benefit of helping you feel less lonely.
When you’re struggling, you might feel the need to isolate and just lock yourself in your room. However, being in contact with other people can help you get out of your headspace and can dispel some of the negative thoughts. So try to be around people and, if you can, maybe join a book club or a choir or any other group that shares your hobby. You could also volunteer for a charity or find some other way to help your community, as doing something positive for others is a powerful source of endorphins that are always needed for good mental health.
Keeping a journal is also a good way to work around negative feelings. Writings down your thoughts can make you understand them more clearly and can help regain some control over your emotions.
Mental health awareness week🏼it’s ok not to be ok💛 #mentalhealth pic.twitter.com/F1BpL7eljf
— Emma Norwood (@emmacnorwood) May 9, 2022
Although these tips might be helpful in relieving stress and improving your mood, we want to reiterate that the most important thing you should do if you are struggling with mental health is reach out for help. Here are some resources you can have a look at:
Established in 1974, this is Ireland’s longest-running support service for LGBTQ+ folks and they offer resources to different areas of the community. Volunteers are ready to answer the support lines seven days a week and seeking help via email or online chat is also an option. For more information, have a look here.
BeLonG To/Pieta House Counselling Service
BeLong To has partnered up with Pieta House to provide a counselling service to young LGBTQ+ people aged 14-23 who are self-harming or having suicidal thoughts.
LGBT Ireland provides the National LGBT Ireland Helpline, a service for queer people who are looking for support or reliable information about mental health. Find all the numbers to call here.
Transgender Equality Network Ireland
TENI offers a range of support services to Trans people in Ireland and with their Gender Identity Family Support Line, they address even the families who might be in need of guidance. Find out more here.
HSE YourMentalHealth Information Line
HSE has made this information line available for anyone who might want to know more and increase their awareness about what services are available to people dealing with mental health issues. You can ring them at 1800 111 888 or visit this webpage for more information.
A GP should also be able to offer support or redirect you to other resources. To find services near you, you can use this service by HSE.ie.
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