West Sussex Mind to form peer support groups for LGBTQIA+ community

February 2023

We plan to create LGBTQIA+ peer support groups, where people with lived experience of mental health can support each other and reduce stigma and isolation. The groups are planned for 2023-24 and we want to collaborate with others to launch the new service

Late last year, West Sussex Mind ran a survey for local LGBTQIA+ communities to explore the demand for peer mental health support and what that support might look like. Although the sample who responded was fairly small (with 48 respondents), it was clear that: firstly, there is a need and desire for LGBTQIA+-focused mental health support; and secondly, that many people feel this is currently lacking in West Sussex.

Other findings include:

  • there is a group of people among our respondents, who said they would be willing to volunteer to help us create an LGBTQIA+-specific peer support offering
  • stigma is still prevalent for many respondents and peer support – where people use their own lived experience of mental health to help each other – is seen as a possible means of challenging this and helping people feel more supported and less isolated
  • a member of staff would be seen as a valuable addition in supporting an LGBTQIA+-specific peer support group and in creating a safe space to support each another.

In the light of the survey findings and feedback from Chichester Pride and Worthing Pride last year, we are now developing plans and looking to collaborate to set up peer support groups for the LGBTQIA+ communities in West Sussex – with a view to getting them up and running in the financial year 2023-24.

Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey. Many of the respondents asked to be updated as the work progresses, and we will continue to do this.

If there are any groups or individuals who would like to have a conversation about this work, please contact Louisa Hernandez, Communities and Inclusion Manager, at Louisa.hernandez@westsussexmind.org