Donations have enabled us to support the Four in Ten support group which provides a safe place where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people with mental health problems can socialise, share experiences and support one another.
Four in ten LGBT people will have mental health problems in their lives and many will experience dual stigma both for being LGBT and for having mental health issues. So, three service users set up the Four in Ten Peer Support Group as a space for people to share their experiences.
‘I thought it would be nice for there to be a group where people could be open about their mental health problems but also open about their sexuality,’ says Denise, who is one of the founders of the group.
There are about ten core members of the group who have been coming regularly for years, but around 40 service users have benefited from the group since it started. They meet every Tuesday evening to socialise in a supportive space that helps them come to terms with experiences of homophobia and discrimination.
Improving LGBT services at SLaM
Denise recruited Peter Vittles, from equality charity The Metro Centre, to coordinate the project and act as a conduit between Four in Ten and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM). Peter is currently working with SLaM to design training that will support staff to work better with LGBT service users.
A space without prejudice
Many LGBT people suffer abuse because of their sexuality and experience prejudice in their daily lives. This can lead people to feel isolated and rejected by their family, friends and society as a whole.
Tom experienced emotional and physical abuse from his family because he was gay. ‘My family told me I was bringing shame on the family. They told me that seven days a week, and I felt I was,’ he says. ‘I blamed myself for all the abuse and I blamed myself for being gay. I had a breakdown because of the abuse and developed agoraphobia and bulimia when I was 17.’
Through counselling and the support of Four in Ten, Tom’s confidence has grown and he no longer blames himself for how his family treated him.
‘I let people accept me for who I am,’ he says. ‘And if they reject me on the basis of being gay then I won’t know them anymore. That’s how I see life now. And I’ve never had closer friends’
Group members’ shared experiences and understanding have enabled a strong support network to grow and friendships to flourish.
The group continues to thrive. It also has plans to offer services to more people, including home visits for people who feel too afraid to leave their homes. Peter also plans to work more closely with LGBT young people, providing them with information and support, and training staff around working with younger LGBT service users.
It’s thanks to generous donations that we can continue to support mental health services like the Four In Ten project. Please help us keep these projects running: make a donation today.