Friday, May 15, 2020

Bristol Mind launches Trans+ Fundraising Appeal 

Local mental health charity Bristol Mind has launched a fundraising campaign to expand its MindLine Trans+ phone service. The service currently operates nationally as a confidential emotional support helpline for people who identify as transgender and non-binary and their friends and family.  

Bristol Mind is hoping to secure an additional £10,000 funding before 22nd April 2020 to increase the service from two nights a week to three nights a week. Funding will contribute to things such as the training and the support of call handlers by staff as well as publicity of the service in rural areas. 

The MindLine Trans+ service provides a safe place for people to talk about their feelings confidentially and calls can last 30 minutes per evening. The service is currently open two evenings a week on Mondays and Fridays from 8pm to midnight. You call the helpline on 0300 330 5468. 

The charity Rethink and the Mental Health Foundation reports that transgender and non-binary people are at higher risk of experiencing poor mental health at a greater risk of hate crime. A transgender mental health study showed that 88% of transgender people had experienced depression and 84% had thought of ending their life. Because of these risk factors, Bristol Mind operates a specific LGBTQ+ counselling service in Bristol as well as the UK-wide transgender helpline MindLine Trans+. 

Volunteers at MindLine Trans+ first picked up the receivers on the 10th of February 2017 and have continued to do so two nights a week in conjunction with Taunton Mind. Bristol Mind also runs MindLine, a more general support line, which has been going for 24 years. The reality of the problems facing one particular group of callers compelled Bristol Mind to create a specific helpline for the transgender community. However, it is important to recognize that not all trans people have poor mental health.   

Liz Sorapure, Projects Coordinator for MindLine, explained, “we started the set-up process in September 2016, after National Mind held a LGBTQ+ and Mental Health Conference in Bristol earlier in the year. Concerns were raised of the lack of trans-specific mental health services. Consultation with the trans-specific community highlighted the need to recruit Trans+ volunteers who our callers would feel comfortable talking to because they may recognize many of the situations and empathize with the challenges to a person’s mental and emotional health. Our ethos at MindLine is that having a non-judgmental and accepting space to talk in is key to promote good mental health and emotional wellbeing”. 

“One advantage we did have in the process was that while about 1% of population in the UK identifies as trans, luckily Bristol has a large Trans+ population so we are able to recruit volunteers. The ongoing challenge is to make sure people, especially in rural communities across the UK who may be isolated, know that we are here to support them too”. 

Speaking to one of Bristol Mind’s volunteer listeners, a transwoman herself, revealed many of the reasons the Trans+ helpline is needed  
“The inability of mainstream mental and physical health services to assist due to a lack of time, resources, and the need to assess patients can make them a ‘un-trans-friendly’ place to turn.  Because we are an independent and anonymous, people at the beginning of their journeys feel able to discuss their identity without the fear of being assessed against criteria. We provide space and time to talk about their feelings. I have largely been taking the calls of those that have already transitioned and need mental health support. Some people face prejudice from colleagues. Some become cut off from their family, spouses or partners, and, in particular, children. It’s not uncommon to hear people say their parents won’t accept them because ‘we had a son and we don’t want a daughter". 



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