This weekend, a group from MHFA England - LGBT+ staff and straight allies -will be marching at Pride in London and having a presence at UK Black Pride. As staff working in a mental health training and campaigning social enterprise we want to play our part in eradicating the prejudice, discrimination and hatred that contributes to the disproportionate levels of poor mental health amongst LGBT+ communities in the UK and around the world.
Politicians may boast we are one of the most tolerant, inclusive and diverse countries in the world and so we may be; but when hate crimes against trans people increase by 81%, when parents protest a primary school that teaches respect and equality, when Northern Ireland still doesn’t have equal marriage in line with the rest of the UK and Ireland, when racism is on the increase and when LGBT+ folk do not feel – and often are not - safe to express their love in public even in our capital cities we cannot be satisfied with the status quo.
And the impact of this is reflected in the mental health statistics - which show stark inequality - and the stories of too many LGBT+ folk.
At MHFA England we asked staff to tell us their hopes for the future. The consensus was this: that all LGBT+ folk can be and express themselves safely wherever they go.
We also asked why they wanted to march, the consensus amongst the staff team was this: the numbers of LGBT+ people who experience poor mental health, who self-harm, who think about and try to end their own lives, and those who die by suicide is unacceptable and it must change, and we have a part to play.
Let us be really clear: it doesn’t need to be this way and it shouldn’t be this way. And we at MHFA England are determined it will change. That is why we will be spending our weekend at Pride in London and UK Black Pride as proud LGBT+ folk and straight allies from a range of backgrounds and different lived experience, demonstrating our commitment to equality, standing in solidarity with all those hurt by prejudice in the UK and around the world, protesting the injustice of discrimination and talking about mental health with pride.
We look forward to seeing you there.