Mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin shares 10 tips for LGBT+ people struggling under lockdown: ‘Do what you need to do to get through’

By Patrick Kelleher | Pink News

Life is a bit of a rollercoaster right now for mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin.

“For me, it’s extremes of emotion,” he says. “I feel really upbeat at times and then feel really down other times. It’s just a complete mixture of thoughts and feelings.”

It is a sentiment most people will be able to relate to as the world is ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis has seen most countries go into some form of state-enforced lockdown, meaning many cannot leave their homes, see their loved ones or live their lives as they once did.

It is, in short, a completely overwhelming time. A recent poll from UK mental health charity YoungMinds found that 80 per cent of young people who have experience of mental ill health have seen their conditions worsen since the pandemic began. It is a heartbreaking and potentially fatal side effect of lockdown.

The pandemic also poses particular challenges for the LGBT+ community. Studies have repeatedly shown that queer people experience higher rates of mental ill-health than their straight and cisgender peers. Right now, LGBT+ people across the world are stuck at home, sometimes with non-affirming parents and families, and many are struggling.

Benjamin knows what it’s like to experience mental ill-health. He has schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar.

“I’ve been on medication for years and I’ve had a lot of different types of therapy,” he says.

The campaigner is well-versed in managing his mental health, but that task has become an even greater challenge in the current climate.

Like most people, Benjamin is finding the coronavirus pandemic a difficult, exhausting and upsetting time — issues that are compounded by the fact that he lives alone in London, meaning he has no face-to-face contact. But he is working to stay on top of his mental health, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Below, Benjamin offers 10 tips to LGBT+ people who are struggling with their mental health at this time. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach here – everyone is different – but Benjamin knows more than most what it takes to stay well during difficult times.

If you are suffering, know this: you are not alone and support is available. At the end of this page, we are including contact information for mental health support services and LGBT+ organisations that can help you.

1. Avoid reading and watching too much coronavirus related news.

It is important to keep up-to-date with developments around coronavirus, but it’s also important to set limits.

Benjamin says that watching daily press briefings were making him feel “unsettled”, so he decided to prioritise his mental health and stop watching them.

“The news is mostly negative, there’s a constant focus on illness and death and there’s a lot of speculation,” he says.


Share This Post
Have your say!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>