Hampshire mental health services for children and young people are leading a series of activities and events this month to celebrate the LGBTQ+ youth community and promote mental health and wellbeing.
Led by Hampshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), which is provided by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the RESPECT project will run throughout the month of December, and promotes the importance of respecting each other, no matter sexuality or relationship preference.
As part of the RESPECT project, Hampshire CAMHS are delivering a number of events across the county, including offering free training for professionals working with children and young people to raise awareness about mental health difficulties, self-harm and suicide in LGBTQ+ young people.
On Friday 6 December staff across Hampshire CAMHS and Sussex Partnership will also be taking part in 'rainbow day', where they will wear rainbow coloured clothing to show their pride and respect, and make a £1 contribution which will be donated to an LGTBQ+ youth organisation.
Helen Dove, Innovation and Participation Lead for Hampshire CAMHS, said: "Every year we look to run campaigns and various projects which focus on different issues and conditions.
"We know that those young people who identify as LGBTQ+ are more likely to have mental health difficulties, self-harm or seek to end their lives by suicide. We also know that young people sadly do not always feel confident in discussing these issues with CAMHS staff. This year we wanted to do something to help raise awareness and understanding of these issues and offer training and guidance to enable people to support the LGBTQ+ community of young people better, and most importantly seek to gain the trust of these young people.
"It has been reported that LGBTQ+ young people are more at risk of experiencing mental health difficulties, suicidal behaviours, and self-harming, which is thought to be due to a number of factors, including being discriminated against by others and feeling isolated.
"I really hope that the RESPECT project will help to start a positive conversation about LGTBQ+ young people, reduce stigma and help to show young people in Hampshire that we accept them for who they are."
To see the full list of upcoming events, and find out more about Hampshire CAMHS and the services they provide, go to www.hampshirecamhs.nhs.uk or follow them on Twitter @Hants_CAMHS and Facebook @Hampshirecamhs1.