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GAY & BISEXUAL MEN - Mental Health

Mental Health

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as a "state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her own community".

Mental health here refers to both mental ill health and mental wellbeing.

While many gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (MSM) enjoy healthy, happy and productive lives, there are a range of preventable mental health issues which affect a disproportionate number of men compared to the general population as a whole.

Mental ill health may include: anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and feeling isolated from others.

Mental wellbeing may include a sense of control, purpose in life, sense of belonging and fulfilling relationships with others.

How do I develop Mental Well-Being?

Developing good emotional and mental well-being involves a good adjustment to all aspects of your self, sexuality and the world we live in.

Through trial and error we have all learned to manage our thoughts and emotions that drive the actions aimed at satisfying our physical, emotional and social needs.

However, when things don't work out as expected, we need to re-evaluate how useful (or not) our old ways of thinking and feeling have been in providing solutions to our current problems.

Many of us already self-manage and acquire new mental skills and strategies to let go of the past and move forward to the future. However, sometimes we need the temporary support of others (friends, family and professionals) to help guide us through certain problematic life events.

Using both guided self-help strategies and support from others when appropriate can be an effective way to develop and maintain good mental well-being.

What signs might I notice?

Signs of mental ill health you might notice can include regular episodes of worrying, feeling down and/or feeling overwhelmed. These signs may suggest low level anxiety, depression or perhaps more severe emotional states affecting the quality of your day to day life.

How might I be supported?

For times when you just need someone to talk through an issue Sexual Health D&G can provide that 'listening ear'. When you need more intensive support we can help put you in touch with professional and support agencies. You may wish also to talk to your GP or practice nurse. GP practices are the centre of activity for everyone's healthcare in Scotland. Sexual Health D&G, D&G LGBTplus and LGBT Youth Scotland are partners in a project to support GP surgeries to better manage the health needs of men who have sex with men. Participating practices display our 'equality for all' poster and staff have been provided with information, support and resources to raise awareness of the specific health needs of men in relationships with other men.

Content reproduced/adapted with permission from Steve Retson Project, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde