Janine S. White

I had an interesting life before starting to write, which has allowed me to go into depths that give an edge, emotion and allow my passion to show. Hopefully this is something that you notice. The truth is, if I do not feel that there is an understanding to be had, something that I can learn and a misconception that can be questioned then I struggle to enjoy it.

From a young age I have found that my motivation to learn has been in an attempt to understand a society that is quite simply, a myriad of contradictions. The more there is to delve into, the more I am attracted to the idea of researching it. My interest in the social and psychological world was introduced to me when my nan got me a book on psychology at thirteen years old. My senses were awakened and I could not get enough knowledge from then on.

Writing helps me to formulate what I have understood and to put my interpretation of the situation out there to an audience who also questions what they see and are told. I happily debate all subjects when I get the opportunit, so that I can see other viewpoints and maintain a balanced view.

You matter!

In a world that has a global population of 7.7 billion people, it is highly probable that everyone is different and individual. Yet there are expectations placed upon each person to fit into certain behaviours. One of which is the belief that people will be heterosexual and that their gender identity will be the same as their biological sex at birth. 

What if this anticipation cannot be reached? What if there was a chromosomal mix up? What if someone can not be what is intended, no matter how hard they try?

With the prospect of being different, comes many difficulties emotionally and mentally. A lack of belonging, knowing that you are different. Unnecessary, yet guaranteed feelings of overwhelming guilt and shame. It is a fact that people who identify as queer are more likely to develop mental health disorders, often leading to suicidal tendencies. 

Research states that 52% of young LGBT people have self-harmed and 44% have considered suicide. When it comes to people who identify as trans, 3% have tried to take their own lives more than 10 times.

It is concerning that so many queer individuals are suffering so much with their mental health, when the causes can be prevented. Depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation are the consequences of being discriminated against and marginalised on a regular, if not daily basis. 

Just because you are queer though does not mean that you will automatically have mental health issues. Your previous experiences and resilience are the determining factors.

Research shows that the support a child receives as they are learning about themselves has a large impact on their resilience as a queer adult. For example, how their family and friends react to them coming out, the first sexual experience and the acceptance and support of the community. These are not things that can be changed overnight but with education, love and acceptance mental health issues can be lessened.

According to UK Government research, 55% of young LGBT students have experienced homophobic bullying, 36% of men have always hidden their sexualities and 1 in 6 have been the victim of hate crime over three years. With zero tolerance policies on bullying within schools, more hate crimes being acted upon and a widely held societal belief that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their gender or sexuality, it is possible for the struggling communities to flourish.

 With more countries accepting same sex marriage and Gay Pride celebrations worldwide, it is more likely that support will be more appropriate to the positive mental health of queer individuals. As the world puts more emphasis on the mental health of everyone there is more likely to be support from the beginning of the journey, all the way until a person has found where they belong, and great friendships have been built.

There are things that can help with maintaining your mental health:

Join queer forums so that you can talk to likeminded people

See what LGBTQ+ groups are in your area

Locate therapy to talk about your feelings (check the therapist thoroughly)

Keep in touch with friends and family that you trust so that you can feel the love and support around you.

It is important to feel a sense of belonging, as your identity develops. Your friends may change as you grow in different ways, but there are always people out there who are happy to talk and to listen. There is always hope and you have made the first step by joining this group.