I started volunteering for MindOut when a trans friend sadly took her own life in 2018. I volunteered in one of the groups and also as a peer mentor. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to give back to my community in this way.
Through the amazing training offered by MindOut and volunteering itself, I learned so much about LGBTQ mental health, including how neurodiversity affects our communities. I met LGBTQ people of different ages and from different backgrounds who I wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to interact with which was incredibly interesting.
In the groups, I witnessed kindness, support and solidarity, the sharing of experiences and the positive effect this coming together had on the service users’ mental resilience. I’ve never been part of such a safe and non-judgemental space where people could be open about their gender, sexuality and mental health without fear. By contributing to these groups it also helped me with my own mental health challenges.
With my peer mentees, it was wonderful to see how they evolved over the 10 sessions and how supporting someone on a regular basis can allow them to blossom. Helping them to achieve their goals was also very fulfilling. Having shared lived experience of mental health issues and being LGBTQ allowed for an immediate level of understanding and acceptance which made for a very successful relationship.
Without these services I have no doubt that that the people I volunteered with would be incredibly isolated and alone. It’s so important that LGBTQ people have opportunities to share stories and connect with people with similar experiences to improve the mental health of our communities as a whole, especially to reduce social isolation and suicidal distress.