You Want To Help Your Gay Mate – But How?
What do you do if you suspect a friend needs some mental health support? Most of us just don’t know.
That was the case last year for Simon, 35, of Sydney, when he noticed a friend of his had become distant and distracted. Simon logged-on to a beyondblue website called Wingmen (wingmen.org.au) for help.
“Wingmen helped me understand that it was okay for me to talk to my friend to try and get him to be okay about asking for help,” says Simon. “It gave me the confidence to start the conversation and reassured me that I didn’t have to have all the answers.”
“Me and most of my friends spend a lot of time online – it’s where I get most of the information I need. Having something like Wingmen helped me think through what I could do.”
The Wingmen website was developed by mental health experts and offers support to gay men who want to help their mates but are not sure what to do. It offers expert advice, conversation tips, resources and an online network of support.
Between June and December 31 last year, almost 16,000 people visited the Wingmen site: wingmen.org.au
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and gender diverse people are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the broader population. They are also at a greater risk of suicide and self-harm.
A 2013 Shout Out survey of gay men revealed 80 per cent of participants had friends who had depression, and 75 per cent experienced anxiety themselves.
According to the survey, gay men felt most comfortable turning to other gay men for emotional support but many were unsure how to support their mates and worried about saying the wrong thing.
beyondblue Board Director Professor, Michael Kidd said starting a conversation with someone you’re concerned about could make a vital difference to that person and it lets them know that someone cares.
“We all want to be there for our friends. But sometimes we worry about having these kinds of conversations,” Professor Kidd said. “Wingmen gives practical advice, tips and resources to help prepare for those conversations.”
“Gay men feel most comfortable turning to other gay men for emotional support but many are unsure how to support their mates and worried about saying the wrong thing.”
The Movember Foundation’s Global Director for Mental Health And Suicide Prevention, Craig Martin continues to be a strong supporter of Wingmen.
“The Movember Foundation is proud to fund Wingmen, assisting gay men in supporting their mates’ mental health and helping them through difficult times.”
Wingmen was developed by beyondblue and the National LGBTI Health Alliance, funded by donations from the Movember Foundation. It is the latest initiative beyondblue has launched to help LGBTI people achieve their best possible mental health and to prevent suicide.
If you or someone you know needs support:
- Mental health professionals are available 24/7 at the beyondblue Support Service – 1300 22 4636 or via beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3pm-12am AEST) or email responses (within 24 hours).
- Support is also available at QLife – 1800 184 527 – from 3pm to midnight nation-wide.