Jo, Wellbeing Practitioner, talks about the Students’ Union’s new LGBT+ Mental Health Campaign: Stand with LGBT+, and how you can show support and get involved!
For the LGBT+ Community, the risk of struggling with poor mental health is higher.
What does LGBT+ mean?
‘LGBT+’ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and other identities. The phrase can be used to describe people who may fit under this general term. Or, you may not feel you fit into one of those terms; everyone is different!
Lesbian, gay and bisexual
A person who is sexually attracted to people of their own gender (lesbian/gay) or more than one gender (bisexual).
Trans is an umbrella term commonly used to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.
Other identities (+)
The LGBT+ community is diverse; the plus (+) is used to recognise that many people – who may or may not identify as LGBT – do not fit into traditional categories of gender or sexuality.
Some terms used to describe gender identity which might fall under the “+” include: ‘non-binary’ – an umbrella term for a person who does not identify as only male or only female, or who may identify as both or neither; ‘gender fluid’ – a term used to describe people who don’t identify with a fixed gender; ‘pansexual’ – referring to a person whose emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction towards others is not limited by biological sex, gender or gender identity; and ‘asexual’ – a term used to describe people who do not experience sexual attraction or who experience very little sexual attraction.
What issues might LGBT+ people face?
Whilst identifying as LGBT+ does not in and of itself cause mental health problems, there are many potential difficulties which people who are LGBT+ may have to face, and research shows that mental health problems are far more common amongst the LGBT+ community.
The evidence both from the UK and internationally highlights increased levels of common mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and stress among people from these groups.
LGBT+ people are 1 and a half times more likely to develop depression and anxiety compared to the rest of the population and are at significantly greater risk of suicidal behaviour and self-harm.
Research also suggests that there may be additional inequalities affecting LGBT+ people from ethnic minority communities or those living with disabilities.
Why are LGBT+ more likely to struggle with mental health?
The potential reasons why mental health issues are more common amongst the LGBT+ community are complex. Factors such as homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying, rejection from family, harassment and discrimination in education or at work and poor responses from healthcare professions are still commonplace for many LGBT+ people.
For people who come out as LGBT+ and experience rejection, they may – understandably – not want to, or feel unable to, come out again. They may feel they have to hide their real self, which can be highly detrimental to mental wellbeing and cause severe stress.
The negative impacts of experiences of discrimination and marginalisation, both direct and indirect, on LGBT+ individuals and groups are well established.
In a recent survey:
- More than half of younger LGBT+ people had experienced homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying in Britain’s schools, and nearly half of pupils who experience bullying have symptoms of depression
- One in six LGBT+ adults had experienced a hate crime or incident in the last 3 years
- 19% of LGB employees had experienced verbal bullying because of their sexual orientation in the last five years
- 25% of trans people had been made to use an inappropriate toilet during transitioning
- Over 10% of trans people had experienced being verbally abused and 6% had been physically assaulted.
For those who experience homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, these feelings may also turn inwards, leading to negative feelings about their own sexuality or gender identity, sometimes known as ‘internalised homophobia or transphobia’.
Stand with LGBT+
On Monday 16 April, and throughout the week, the LGBT+ Officers from the Students’ Union will be out and about on campus, raising awareness about mental health in the LGBT+ Community and talking about their new Campaign, Stand with LGBT+. The campaign encourages us all to stand together to break the silence around LGBT+ mental health and to raise awareness of the support available here at Cardiff for LGBT+ students and staff who might be struggling with mental health.
Led by Taz Jones (LGBT+ Officer and Co-President of the LGBT+ Association), Josh Lewis (LGBT+ Officer and Co-President of the LGBT+ Association) and George Watkins (Mental Health Officer), the Officers will be running a range of awareness-raising events and activities, including Tea & Talk opportunities and live video streaming. ‘Stand with LGBT+’ wristbands will be available for people to wear to demonstrate support for the Campaign, and there will be opportunities for making a donation to the LGBT+ Association for anybody who would like to. The Officers will also show their new video for the first time, in which staff and students have come together in support of the Campaign.
The week will culminate in a Celebration event on Friday 20 April at Y Plas, to celebrate the diversity of Cardiff in style!
Check out the LGBT+ Officers’ social media to see live videos throughout the week, and visit the Stand with LGBT+ webpage to see their timetable of events and activities, including the locations where they will be present throughout the week, and sign up to attend!
Working together there is potential to support better mental health and wellbeing and improve the lives of all LGBT+ people of all ages.
So please: Stand with LGBT+ this week, and beyond.
Where can I get help?
Emotional and Practical Support is available
Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service
The University’s Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service is available to provide support for LGBT+ students, and to anybody experiencing any sort of difficulty, however big or small.
If you are experiencing any kind of emotional distress, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We can offer support We offer bookable appointments via our online referral questionnaire, as well as a daily Drop-In Service called ‘Wellbeing Walk-In’, between 15:00-15:45, Monday–Friday and on Wednesday mornings between 09:30-10:15 at the Student Support Centre at 50 Park Place.
All of our staff will listen, without judgement, and offer support in a safe, confidential space.
If talking to a member of staff is something you are not sure about, why not chat to one of our Student Wellbeing Champions. They are trained student volunteers who can signpost you to support, offer you a ‘Peer Ear’ and give you basic health and wellbeing advice.
Rainbow Bridge is an LGBT+ Support Organisation which offers free and confidential support to anybody experiencing or affected by domestic abuse who identifies as LGBT+. The Rainbow Bridge Team is available to Cardiff University students at the Student Support Centre (50 Park Place) on the last Tuesday of every month, between 17:30-19:30. The team can provide emotional support, practical support, advice and information.
Or call 0300 3031 982 or email RainbowBridge@victimsupport.org.uk to find out more.
Based on the 3rd floor of the Students’ Union, the Student Advice team can guide you on a variety of different issues, ranging from mental health to housing and money worries. They run drop-ins 12:00-14:00 every weekday, or 12:00-14:00 Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Heath Park Campus, and you are also able to book longer appointments. For more information, please visit cardiffstudents.com/advice.
South Wales Victim Focus
On the second Tuesday evening of every month during term-time, South Wales Victim Focus offers free, one-to-one confidential support for direct victims, witnesses and anyone indirectly affected by any kind of crime, including Hate Crime. By listening and focusing on the victim, regardless of the type of crime, the team provides emotional support, and the crime does not have to be reported to the police in order for support to be received. Book an appointment.
LGBT+ Officer drop-in
Chat to your LGBT+ Officers every Thursday between 15:00-17:00 at the Campaign Officers Desk (opposite Student Voice). Keep up to date with their social media accounts, which can be found on the Campaign Officer pages at cardiffstudents.com, for any changes.
Representing LGBT+ issues as well as campaigning for change on campus and running various events, the LGBT+ Association is available for whatever you might need them for. Find them on Facebook, Twitter or email them at: LGBTAssociation@cardiff.ac.uk
CU Pride Society
An LGBT+ society that provides social events and a safe space to talk about any issues. Find them on Facebook, Twitter or contact them at: LGBT@cardiff.ac.uk
Offering a confidential listening ear from 20:00-08:00. Call them on 02920 870 555 or visit cardiffnightline.co.uk to chat on their instant messaging service.
They run a peer-support service for students with eating difficulties every Thursday in room 4H on the 4th floor of the Students’ Union from 18:15-19:00.
Umbrella provide support for anyone who identifies as LGBT+ or is questioning their sexuality and/or gender identity. Find them online at www.umbrellacymru.co.uk or email them on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Out and Proud
Out and Proud is a chance to meet other young LGBT+ people aged 13-21. It offers peer support for anyone who is LGBT+. Find more information at www.outandproudcardiff.co.uk
The LGBT Foundation
The LGBT Foundation work to support LGBT+ people including help with healthcare. Find more information at https://lgbt.foundation/ or call them on 0345 3 30 30 30.
Enfys (the Welsh word for ‘Rainbow’), is the name for the LGBT+ network for all staff and postgraduates at Cardiff University. Enfys aims to raise awareness of LGBT+ issues, to represent the views of LGBT+ staff and postgraduate students, to provide a gateway of confidential support and assistance to LGBT+ staff, to work with the LGBT+ student officers, association and society to ensure a positive environment for the LGBT+ community to work and study at Cardiff University and to provide support to enable the University community to report homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and harassment.
Coming Out! is Stonewall’s guide for young people. It provides answers to some of the most common questions young people might have if they are thinking about coming out, or think they might be lesbian, gay or bi. Written and designed in conjunction with young people themselves, the guide offers advice, guidance and suggestions for further support.
Guide for Young Trans People in the UK was produced by young trans people, and gathers stories, sources, facts and tips that might be useful to anyone questioning their gender.
Jo, Wellbeing Practitioner.
Your Student Life, Supported.
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For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.