October 10 is World Mental Health Day, a day which is all too relevant for the LGBTQ+ community. Globally LGBTQ+ people remain among the most marginalised and hated groups in society, too often lacking acceptance even from family members. Studies show that LGBTQ+ people are more than twice as likely to experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation than the general population. Although these numbers are decreasing as societal acceptance grows, they are still much too high.
Executive Director of OutRight Action International, Jessica Stern, said while things are improving, the stigma around mental health is still a big issue.
“Discriminatory attitudes also result in affirmative mental health support being, too often, unavailable. Continuing perceptions of LGBTQ+ people as pathological – despite homosexuality having been removed from the international classification of diseases in 1990, and transgender identities being removed from the same list in 2019 – lead to a scourge of “conversion therapy” practices which amplify existing mental health challenges while also in and of themselves causing deep, irreparable harm.
“Moreover, mental health practitioners – the very people who should be supporting us to overcome mental health challenges – are among the top perpetrators of these practices, willingly and knowingly inflicting psychological and physical harm.
“Despite the amplified mental health issues LGBTQ+ people face, we are also invisible in the conversation about breaking the stigma and taking a stand for mental health. This World Mental Health Day we need to start changing that.”
On October 9-10, people from around the world will be encouraged to participate in a virtual march. A 24-hour livestream will feature people with lived experience, mental health leaders and influencers from the civil society groups already active in 19 countries through the Speak Your Mind campaign. In addition, global partner organisations that are leading and coordinating work on mental health, including OutRight, are organising hour-long sessions on specific themes, including mental health and young people, mental health and older people, and mental health and the LGBTQ+ community.
The March will help increase awareness of mental health issues, break down stigma and bring about policy change. Members of the public will be urged to “add their voice” and join the March using online filters to be released in the lead-up to the event.
Actor Stephen Fry is joining OutRight for the LGBTQ+ hour of the march (October 10, 11 pm GMT+1). He emphasises:
“There are many mental health issues faced especially by young people as they struggle to come to terms with their sexual identity, to be out to friends and family. And there are those who are victim to the appalling violence that is called “conversion therapy” that not only doesn’t work but is led by total ignorance and misunderstanding, hatred and fear.
“Shockingly there are only 5 countries who have banned this abuse, and this has to change, which is why we are putting a spotlight on it this World Mental Health Day.”
Join OutRight at the March for Mental Health at 11 pm GMT+1 on October 10 for LGBTQ+ hour to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues, to elevate the voices of LGBTQ+ people in this conversation, to call for an end to “conversion therapy”, and for increased availability of affirmative mental health support for LGBTQ+ people everywhere.
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