What is Talk-It-Out and why is it important?
Talk-it-out is our counselling project aimed at meeting the specific needs of LGBT+ people. Although mental health professionals acknowledge that being an LGBT+ person does not mean a person is mentally ill, statistics show that LGBT+ people do suffer from higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal and self-harm behaviours than the general population.
Talk-It-Out is kindly funded by:
Why can being an LGBT+ person affect your mental health?
Despite society being more accepting of LGBT+ people in recent years, there is still prejudice which can result in something we call minority stress. Minority stress results directly from being treated differently to other people. Some of this is deliberate – like being abused, bullied or excluded, sadly, sometimes by loved ones. Some of it is subtler and not necessarily intended – such as having to explain yourself when talking about your partner or your childhood if you are a transgender person. This can result in people feeling like there is something wrong with them or that they don’t ‘belong’. It means some people feel they must hide who they are – perhaps for many years – and it can lead to feelings of guilt, shame and poor self-esteem. All these things can contribute to poor mental health.
Why is a specialist counselling service needed?
Although change is happening most mental health services still lack the knowledge to work with LGBT+ people effectively and research shows that LGBT+ people often feel that their needs are not met. That is why we believe a dedicated service is needed and why our therapists are trained to understand the issues LGBT+ people face instead of clients having to educate their therapists. This is something that research points to as being a major obstacle faced by LGBT+ people in therapy. Talk-It-Out aims to fill a gap because we believe LGBT+ people deserve better. However we also have a long term goal to be part of a movement which aims to make sure that all mental health professionals are trained to work effectively with LGBT+ people.
Who is Talk-It-Out for?
Anybody who needs to talk about their sexual or gender identity can access help from Talk-It-Out as long as they have an address in Cumbria. We are also happy to work with the parents of LGBT+ people who are struggling to understand how best to support them. We work with people of all ages but if you are under the age of 16 we may need to have the permission of your parents. However you are still free to contact us and we will discuss this with you – giving you the choice as to whether or not to continue.
Please Note, we will not contact anybody’s parents or break confidentiality in any case unless we have good reason to be concerned that you pose a risk to yourself or somebody else.
How do I access Talk-It-Out
Initially we need you to fill in a referral form.
LGBT+ people can refer themselves or your parents or professionals involved in your care can make a referral on your behalf. If you are the parent of an LGBT+ person you can refer yourself or, again, you can ask a professional such as your GP, therapist or a teacher to make a referral on your behalf.
Parent/Professional Referral Form
This form is in the process of being created – in the meanwhile please email us on TIOreferral@outreachcumbria.co.uk or post to the above address.
What happens next?
Once we have processed your form, which may take up to two weeks, we will be in contact to arrange an initial phone call to talk to you about how we can be of help. Following this we will decide whether we are the best people to help, or whether we should signpost you elsewhere for help. Assuming we think Talk-It-Out is a suitable service for you we will then assign you to a therapist based on your location, your availability and the specific nature of the problem. We will then contact you as soon as we have a suitable therapist available, although we cannot guarantee how long that will take.
How long will Talk-It-Out be available for?
Currently we have £25k of funding and we will be providing the service until the end 2021 or until this funding runs out – whichever comes sooner. In the meanwhile we will be seeking further funding to continue the project but we will work with people on a first come first served basis so we would recommend people to get in touch as soon as they realise they need some help.