MindOut is a mental health project run by and for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGB&T) people that was started in 1998. The staff, volunteers and trustees, are all LGB and/or T and 100% of the team have lived experience of mental health problems, or caring responsibilities for a person with mental health problems. The organisation believes that sharing this identity is essential to their work and welcomes everyone who wishes to use their services.
MindOut run an advice and advocacy service covering mental health and related issues such as housing, relationships, treatments, mental health law and money. Volunteer advocates help people negotiate with service providers, support them to ask for what they need, accompany people to meetings, understand their rights and help write letters. A daily, out of hours, online support service, is delivered by trained volunteers, who are ready to provide support, advice and information or signpost people.
There are a number of peer support groups where LGB&T people can share their experiences, problems and stories. Many LGB&T with lived experience of mental health are keen to meet each other outside of the commercial pubs and clubs. MindOut aims to provide a place to meet where it is safe to identify as LGB&T and as having mental health concerns. The groups are both ‘closed’ and ‘open’. A peer mentoring project gives people with lived experience of mental health the opportunity to be paired up with a trained volunteer, who works in a person-centred way.
MindOut has an allotment in Hove that is maintained by service users, staff and volunteers who have regular trips to the allotment in a small group setting. Various tasks are undertaken with everyone working together to grow produce that is used, when possible, to cook at one of the peer support groups. People who take part in the allotment also have the opportunity to take produce home with them to cook with.
'Since attending the groups at MindOut it has helped me enormously. I don’t feel so isolated and alone with my problems. Being able to relate to other LGBT people has really helped me' MindOut service user.
*This example was originally published in No Assumptions: a narrative for personalised, coordinated care and support in mental health, National Voices/TLAP, August 2014.