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Louise’s story: mental health support in the LGBTQIA+ community

Louise from Manchester is one of our dedicated Coaches. Having first started with Shout as a volunteer, Louise now supports new volunteers as they progress through their training to take their first conversations with texters in distress.

Here Louise talks about her personal mental health journey, the experience of coming out to her family as a bisexual woman and shares her top tips for supporting your wellbeing.

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No one should live in fear of being who they are.

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Tell us about yourself

My name is Louise and I was born and raised in Manchester. I spent my twenties in Cork, Ireland, before returning to Manchester five years ago.

I have numerous passions, mainly music and history, and you can usually find me at a gig when I’m not working.

What do you do at Shout?

I was one of Shout’s first volunteers, when the service was set-up in 2018. One year later, I was employed as a Coach and now I’m a Coach in the Training and Graduation Team.

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I love my job because it gives me the opportunity to work with new volunteers as they take their first steps on the platform to support texters struggling to cope.

Why did you join Shout?

I was drawn to Shout as I live with EUPD (emotionally unstable personality disorder) and I wanted to use my personal experiences to support others.

I am on medication that helps to regulate my mood, as well as a weekly session with a therapist. With these in place I find I can manage my condition well.

Why do you think people in the LGBTQIA+ community can be at a higher risk of experiencing some mental health challenges?

I remember when I came out as bisexual to my family and it was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. Luckily, they were very supportive but I know that some in the LGBTQIA+ community are not so fortunate and this can have a big impact on your mental health.

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We have come a long way in terms of acceptance and tolerance, but we still have a long way to go.

Sadly, there are still some people in society who discriminate against the LGBTQIA+ community, and I believe that when you have to live with the fear of rejection, of being seen as 'different' and of being treated cruelly or unkindly, this can be a significant stressor. No one should live in fear of being who they are. And nobody should feel alone in what they’re facing.

Everyone deserves to be listened to and supported, which is why we’re so proud to be there 24/7 for the LGBTQIA+ community, who make up 37% of our texters and 26% of our volunteers.

How do you manage your own mental health?

We all know how important it is to look after our mental health, but a lot of people don’t know where to start. Here are some things that work for me.

  • Start small. You don’t have to do big things to begin with, small steps can go a long way towards building positive mental health
  • Take a walk. I’ve always been a fan of walking - nature is good for our mental health
  • Enjoy the little things. I will sometimes buy my favourite coffee and sit at home listening to my favourite band. It’s about finding what brings your mind some peace and can put a smile on your face

Do you have any extra tips specifically for people in the LGBTQIA+ community?

In Manchester alone I am aware of numerous LGBTQ+ groups that meet up regularly. I think this is such a wonderful way of connecting with others, and I would encourage anyone in the community to look up their local groups.

Of course, meeting face-to-face isn’t for everyone, and there are plenty of online groups and forums as well.

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Never forget that you are not alone in what you are experiencing. Your feelings are valid and there are many of us ready to listen.

For more information, check out our mental health resources and support for the LGBTQIA+ community.

If you’re struggling to cope and need someone to talk to about how you’re feeling, text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 for free, confidential support, 24/7.

If your life is at imminent risk, please call 999 for immediate help.