The new website and interactive Virtual Support Service has been developed by PACE, London’s leading charity promoting the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBT community to enable PACE to reach out to more people in distress.
Research has shown that levels of suicide, deliberate self-harm and drug and alcohol abuse amongst LGBT people are significantly higher than in their heterosexual counterparts. Gay and bisexual men are five times as likely to have self-harmed and lesbians and bisexual women are four times as likely to be at risk of substance abuse as straight women.
Poorer mental health amongst LGBT people is linked to discrimination, bullying, homophobia, pressure to conform and poor self-esteem.
Chief Executive, Margaret Unwin said:
We see our new online platform as a key service for the LGBT community. Our own practice and research shows that LGBT people are isolated and may feel afraid to seek professional help or access mental health care. Unfortunately mainstream services don’t always understand their issues.
Virtual Support Project Manager Rachel Booles said:
The Virtual Support Project will provide an easily accessible, free and anonymous source of support for many vulnerable LGBT individuals out there. This service expands our services beyond London to give us a national reach. There will be expert advice provided which service users can access and an assessment tool so they can monitor their progress. Peer support will be offered through message boards and chat, moderated by a team of highly trained volunteers.
A volunteer taking part in the project said:
We want to establish that taking care of individual wellbeing is an unselfish notion, and something we can all take part in. Mental wellbeing is possible if we allow ourselves to use the tools available.
You can find the Pace Health Website at http://pacehealth.org.uk