What is mental health?
Our mental health is something everybody has just like our physical health. We might be clear on what good physical health is, but being mentally healthy isn’t about being happy all the time or never being afraid. Good mental health means being able to think, feel and react in ways that you need and want to live your life. As such, if your mental health becomes worse you may struggle to cope with what you’re thinking, feeling or reacting to things. Mental ill health can be experienced differently for different people and there are many different types of mental illness. Most of us might have some experience of depression or anxiety in ourselves or others but there are many other diagnosis’s such as bipolar or schizophrenia.
Mental health awareness week
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place from 10-16 May 2021. The theme set by the Mental Health Foundation this year is ‘Nature’ because of the positive impact it has had on people’s mental health through the pandemic.
Mental Health Awareness Week started 21 years ago and is all about starting conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that can affect it. Mental health awareness helps break down the barriers people can face when struggling with their mental health. A lot of people can find it hard to seek help or feel ashamed about how they are feeling, by raising awareness we can show people that there is not a stigma around their mental health and that they deserve help and support.
How might being LGBTQ effect my mental health?
Anyone can experience a mental health problem. You might think it has nothing to do with your identity as LGBTIQ+ or you might think it has everything to do with it. It can sometimes be hard to tell. People who are LGBTIQ+ are statically more likely to struggle with mental ill health, but that doesn’t mean that your experiences will be the same. Being LGBTIQ+ does not cause these problems and the reasons why are varied and complicated. However, they might be because you have faced homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, stigma or social isolation or exclusion. For many LGBTIQ+ people they describe always feeling different to others, this can be hard to make sense of and can also have an impact on our mental wellbeing.
Helping my mental health: the 5 Ways to wellbeing
Everyone has different experiences of mental health and their ways of coping will be different too. Yet, all of us can find that to live a mentally healthy life, we need certain things in our lives that keep us connected to others, the world around us and who we are. These can be summed up in the 5 ways to wellbeing: take notice, keep learning, connect to others, keep active and give. Each of these can be done in many different ways to suit your own life and interests.
5 ways to wellbeing in nature
For this year’s mental health awareness week, the theme is nature. So, this is an example about how you might keep in touch with nature as part of your 5 ways to wellbeing.
Take Notice – use your senses when you’re outside, what birds can you hear? What does the grass feel like underfoot? What colours can you see?
Learn – Look up the things you can see, perhaps you went out for a walk and spotted a deer, a butterfly or a rabbit. Whatever it is, if you found it interesting or exciting, learn more and look it up!
Connect – Reach out to others, you could go for a walk with someone or have a picnic. If you’re really struggling to reach out, start by just sending pictures of nature or something you have seen during your day to a friend or loved one.
Active – Most exercise can be more interesting if we take it outside and can see what’s around us. You don’t have to put pressure to do certain types of exercise, just focus on what you enjoy. If you don’t like running but like walking- do that!
Give – giving to others can have a positive impact on our mental health. Perhaps you know a friend who is having a hard time that might need cheering up. You could send them a card and some flowers, or even pick your own out your garden!
This simple example can show you the ways in which you can think about what you need to stay mentally healthy and how you might adapt them to fit you personally.
Support for you
Space Youth Project Dorset is a local service that offers support for all members of the LGBT+ community across Dorset, under 25 years of age, regardless of race, religion or social background. This is delivered through multiple services including: weekly groups; informal 1 to 1 support; family support; and counselling. Space also provides educational resources and training for professionals, teachers, and families, and runs assemblies and lessons in schools across the county. In this way, we strive to provide local young people with the awareness and support they may need and aim to build a brighter future; where LGBT+ people are empowered alongside the wider community and have ample access to mental health support.
You can access the Space Youth Project Dorset website to access their support.