Sexuality is part of what makes us who we are. Sometimes, however, understanding and coming to terms with our sexual identity can be stressful. Homophobia and transphobia can lead to specific stresses for LGBT people and this can also have a negative impact on your mental health.
Most people know they are LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) for some time before they tell others. When someone is considering coming out, they may be afraid that family and friends will reject them if they know they are LGBT. This can be a lonely and worrying time and can put a strain on your mental health. Young LGBT people have to deal with the normal stresses of growing up as well as other stresses like isolation, name-calling and homophobic bullying.
Coming out can be a challenging time, but it can also be an exhilarating and rewarding experience which in itself can improve your mental health. Most people have a positive experience when they come out to family and friends. It is a good idea to prepare before coming out to a family member, friend or colleague. You may want to consider some of the following:
Think about who you want to come out to. Why are you coming out to that particular person?
When and where?
Think about the location and timing of where and when you are going to come out. Will you have a private space to talk uninterrupted? If you are fearful of negative reaction, choose a location where you feel safe.
Give it time
Time to digest – people will react in different ways to you coming out. Give them some time to take in the news.
Lack of support from family or friends
Some LGBT people can experience a lack of support from family and friends. This may happen when someone first comes out, when they get into a relationship, start a family or when a relationship ends. This can manifest in any number of ways and can put a strain on your mental health. Sometimes families, in particular parents, may not know how to support LGBT family members and may need support themselves
Supports for LGBT people and family
LGBT helpline - 1890 929 539
The LGBT Helpline is a non-judgmental and confidential service providing listening, support and information to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, their family and friends, and to those who are questioning if they might be LGBT.
BeLonGTo youth services provide nationwide support to young LGBT people.
Information and support
You can find supportive information and the numbers for LGBT help lines nationwide at www.lgbtmentalhealth.ie.
The Transgender Equality Network Ireland provides support for transgender people.