‘Can You Hear Me?’ is a new project by The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, which will support lesbian and bisexual women to share their stories to change attitudes and reduce stigma around mental health.

This project is funded by Time to Change, England’s biggest programme to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. The programme is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health and Comic Relief.

Last week a Guardian article about the Time to Change campaign examined if attitudes towards mental health have improved. It suggested that whilst people with mental health problems are experiencing less stigma, attitudes of health workers are not improving.

This month The LGF are launching ‘Can You Hear Me?’, a new project which will tackle mental health discrimination, highlighting the experiences of lesbian and bisexual women with mental health problems, support them to share their stories with the public, to change attitudes and reduce stigma.

Statistics

  • Half of lesbian and bisexual women have had negative experiences with healthcare professionals in the last year, and half are not out to their GP. Of those who are out, only 3 in 10 said that healthcare workers did not make inappropriate comments when they came out (Stonewall: 2008)
  • 1 in 5 BME lesbian and bisexual women have an eating disorder compared to 1 in 20 of the general population (Stonewall: 2008)
  • 50% of lesbian and bisexual women under the age of 20 have self-harmed in the past year, compared to 1 in 15 generally. (Stonewall: 2008)
    All statistics sourced from The Lesbian & Gay Foundation’s Evidence Exchange www.lgf.org.uk/evidence​

The LGF are recruiting 20 lesbian and bisexual women with direct experience of mental health issues to take part in the project, and are hosting a recruitment evening for women to find out more, and meet the team, on Thursday 18th April 6 – 8pm.

The project will culminate in an exhibition taking place at The LGF’s Community Resource Centre in Manchester in July and August, coinciding with Manchester Pride, and will take the form of a ‘kitchen installation’. Participants will create their own kitchen space, and will be asked to share their personal experiences of mental health, which will be turned into audio and played through a radio at the exhibition.

Lucy Rolfe, Wellbeing Manager at The Lesbian & Gay Foundation comments “Many lesbian and bisexual women don’t feel they can speak up about having a mental health problem or feeling distressed, so giving the exhibition an element of sound, will help to give each of our participants a voice.”

“By being able to talk, listen to and share experiences, we hope that visitors will gain a better understanding of why so many lesbian and bisexual women experience mental illness and the impact stigma and discrimination can have.”

For more information on the ‘Can You Hear Me Project’ click here.

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