Queer Talks Session 15: Importance of the Well-being of Mental Health to LGBTIQ Community

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With a standard definition for health, as said by WHO (2014), health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. And being said about mental health, by WHO (2014), it is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
Into well-being, these terms often used to define as satisfaction of life, optimism, self-esteem, mastery and feeling in control, having a purpose in life, and a sense of belonging and support.
Affection to the state of mental being, hassles everyone faces in daily basis are common, nevertheless in LGBTIQ perspective, there are other circumstances affect significantly to the LGBTIQ community such as,
1. Sexual orientation related issues that compromise mental health functioning
2. Gender identity related issues that compromise mental health functioning
It is obvious that these issues affecting the mental well-being are due to the lack of social acceptance towards different sexual orientations and gender identities, or inrecognition of the concept of sexual orientation and gender identity at all; ignorance.
Combined, the issues the LGBTIQ communities face that affect their metal well-being are,
1. Stigma, discrimination, harassments, violence
2. Difficulties related to understanding sexuality, or gender identity
3. Negotiation of coming out process to self and others
4. Normal negative emotions and distresses
5. Depression, anxieties, suicidal thoughts, stress etc.
6. Threats to one’s privacy and identity/being outed
7. Recognizing and coping with harmful behaviours; e.g. DSH, substance abuse/misuse, suicidal acts
At a matrix mental health is best understood (displayed in the video).
In Sri Lanka, due to criminalization, stigma and discrimination issues, LGBTIQ persons are at an increased risk of developing mental health issues. Therefore, learning to identify the warning signs early, knowing how to engage in self-care practices, knowing when to seek help, and knowing where to seek help from are even more important.
These warning signs can be,
1. Problems with concentration, memory or ability to think clearly
2. Changes in eating such as loss of appetite, or overeating
3. Feeling sad, empty, hopeless or worthless
4. Sensitivity to sounds, smell, sights, or touch
5. Irritability and restlessness, or anger
6. Loss of interest, in activities that are normally enjoyable, withdrawal from others, or disconnection
7. Feeling overly worried, or unrealistic ideas
8. Negative behaviour like substance abuse
9. Changes in energy level and sleeping patterns. Often someone will sleep during the day and be up at night
10. Not being able to complete school or work related tasks

It is said one in four people has a mental illness, and discovery when you realize that it affects your daily activities. Counselling and psychotherapy help;
• To deal with daily pressure and instant short-term problems
• To understand the relationship between thoughts-feelings-behaviour
• To understand the patterns of negative behaviours, and challenge them
• To solve problems affected to modern day activities caused by deep emotional-roots in the past
• To learn positive behaviours
• To deal with violence / shock

Grounding exercise such as evaluating negative states with scale measuring the levels of sight, feel, hear, smell/deep breaths, and taste often helps, and with such evaluation, practising,
1. Simple breathing exercise (deep inhale and deep exhale and repetition)
2. Writing down
3. Focusing on solutions
4. Setting realistic expectations – understanding strengths versus limitations
5. Regular exercising, healthy food and adequate sleep
6. Maintaining a healthy work
7. More open to realism and positivity
8. Enhancing social support-to reach someone you can trust
9. Controlling only what you can
10. Learning to identify your moods/emotions
11. Avoiding overthinking
12. Engaging in self-care and building resilience (long-term)
These shall improve your mental well-being and in point 12, thus shall develop your statuses such as:
• Physical
• Mental
• Social
• Financial
• Professional/job related
• Emotional
• Spiritual

Support Services LGBTIQ communities can reach in Sri Lanka
1. The Courage, Compassion, Commitment Foundation (CCC) (http://cccfoundation.org.au/) -1333
2. Family Planning Association -37/27 Bullers Lane, Colombo 7 -0112 555 455
3. Shaanthi Maargam – Gothami Road, Colombo – 0717 639898
4. Sumithrayo – 60b, Horton Place, Colombo – 0112 692 909
5. Equal Ground – 0112 503 977 or Facebook Messenger from 9:30 AM to 5PM.

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