World Mental Health Day 2020

It’s World Mental Health Day. At some point in our lives, more than half of gay, bisexual and all men who have sex with men will experience some form of poor mental health.

On top of this, we experience higher rates of suicidal thoughts and harmful alcohol and substance use. 

Despite the fact that mental health issues are so common in our communities, many of us find it difficult to talk about, or feel ashamed and stigmatised for doing so.  At SX we want that to change.  

 Keep reading to find out more about how to looking after your mental health, how you can support a friend or loved one in need, and where you can access support if you need too. 

When we talk about poor mental health, we commonly refer to either feelings of anxiety or depressionFor more information on anxiety and/or depression click here. 

5 ways to improve your mental health from SAMH

Connect 

  • Put five minutes aside to ask someone how they are 
  • Arrange to meet up with friends that you haven’t seen in a while 

Be Active 

  • Go for a short walk at lunchtime 
  • Discover a physical activity you enjoy and one that suits you 

Take Notice 

  • Set aside time to practice mindfulness, self-pleasure or take up yoga 
  • Take notice of how your friends or colleagues are feeling 

Learn 

  • Sign up for a class and/or learn something new 
  • Rediscover an old interest, such as cooking or gardening 

Give 

  • Volunteer your time for a cause you are passionate about 
  • Spend time with someone who you know has been having a difficult time 

 

For more information on improving your mental health, click here. 

Looking for support

Our Health Improvement Team will work with you, allowing supporting you to make informed choices about the sex you're having. 

We work with individuals to explore all aspects of sexual, physical and mental health and wellbeing. in a confidential and supportive manner.  Support is tailored to personal needs, and we are able to support individuals who face discrimination because of their race, identity, sexuality, gender, sexual health, and HIV status.  

One-to-one support is available to gay and bisexual men, and all men who have sex with men, including trans men.  

To contact us today click here. 

Gay and Bisexual men's experiences of mental health

For World Mental Health Day 2020, we have worked with men from our community and Thrive Edinburgh, to enable men to speak about their experiences of mental health without fear of judgment or stigma. Follow this link through to Thrive Fest and our project 'Blue is not the only colour in the rainbow'. 

The project asked gay and bisexual men from our community to submit an image and a small piece of text that reflected their mental health or wellbeing in some way. We would then printed their image using a technique known as cyanotype, which uses sunlight to develop an image almost like a shadow. We thought this technique - which is all about exposure - was an interesting metaphor for how men struggle to discuss their mental health openly.   

The submissions are really interesting snapshots of the lives that gay and bisexual men lead and a diverse range from individuals’ memories, photographs of safe spaces, and small gestures that have made a difference to their lives. 

We hope this project will help us begin a conversation that helps men in our community feel able to speak more openly about their experiences. 

Click here to see the event.

Looking out for a friend?

We all want to make sure our friends and family are in a good space and there are a number of things you can do to support someone going through a hard time. You can advise them to look at both the 5 ways better mental health from SAMH and they can come to us for one to one support.  

You can also learn more about supporting someone through these free online training sessions from Zero Suicide Alliance. They offer particular training around Suicide First Aid, which upskills you to recognise potential signs of suicidal thoughts, how to offer support, and signpost them to useful groups.  

Click here for a link to the training.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, there are a number of charities that specialise in providing mental health support. You can contact: 

  • Samaritans 24/7 listening and emotional support service. You can call free on 116123
  • Breathing Space a free, confidential service for people living in Scotland who are experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety. You can call free on 0800 838587 (Mon-Thurs 6pm-2am and from Friday 6pm – Monday 6am
  • Scottish Association for Mental Health Scotland’s leading mental health charity. There is lots of information and support available through their website.