Austerity and the mental health crisis in the LGBTQ* community


This article is by Charlie Smoke of the Polarised Project


The flash bulbs that exploded over the sandstone exterior of Islington Town Hall on the 29th March 2014, in celebration of the first same sex marriage, were almost bright enough to whitewash the cracks rapidly appearing in the LGBTQ* community.


The London Borough of Islington has one of the biggest, and most concentrated LGBTQ* populations in the country. Stats from the Islington Revealed survey also showed that almost half of the LGBTQ* population (48%) had experienced mental health issues- compared with just 25% of the heterosexual population, on average, suffering the same fate.

Further reading of the survey reveals even more grim statistics; 9.5% of those surveyed had attempted suicide; this compared with a national average of less than 1%.

Were these statistics transposed to Heaven, one of the largest and most (in)famous gay clubs in London, around 185 of the 1850 clubbers would bear the scars of suicide. Their livers would show the telling signs of a pharmaceutical overdose; the jagged patches of red that lined their wrists would glisten in the neon lights, their necks would still hold the tension of a rope placed around them as they danced to Beyonce’s latest offering.

Over the past couple of years, as the same sex marriage debate intensified, huge amounts of resources have been poured into the campaign by both LGBT pressure groups and charities. Campaigns were formed for and against, with money being spent on advertisements, leaflets, buses, placards and merchandise. At a time when the coalition’s austerity regime is starting to dramatically restrict the accessibility and existence of vital mental health provisions, it seems almost unthinkable that the majority of LGBT campaigns and charities would shift their focus onto something so superficial as marriage.

Whilst the introduction of same sex marriages, much like the introduction of civil partnerships, is a step in the right direction, it smacks of tokenism.

It feels like many of the people who seek to speak for the LGBT community have seen cracks appear in a dam, and, instead of doing anything to prevent the inevitable collapse, have decided to rake an adjoining lawn instead.

That’s why we started the Polarised Project – a documentary focused on the voices of young LGBTQ* people with mental health difficulties.

We wanted to give a voice to the thousands of LGBTQ* people who struggle in silence, alone and invisible – ignored by the glitzy veil of equal marriage and left to become another statistic.

We wanted to reach out to that gay guy sat in a dingy Whitechapel flat with a pile of white and pink pills stacked in front of him and to let him know that, not only was he not alone, but that we’re going to do something about it.

So far, in doing the project, we’ve reached out and spoken to people up and down the country – people who are LGBTQ*, suffer from mental health difficulties and are fed up of being brushed aside. They, like us, are fed up of facing one of the worst epidemics to hit the LGBTQ* community in decades, alone and in the shadows.

The documentary is currently in pre-production with filming due to begin at the end of July. We managed to raise an incredible £2,266 through a crowd funding campaign which finished two weeks ago. We do, however, still need to raise more money to make the film a reality. We’re approaching charities, trusts, funds and organisations for funding, but if you could donate even £1 we would be eternally grateful.

More information about the project, including a link to donate through Paypal, can be found at

Help us make our voices heard.

One Response to Austerity and the mental health crisis in the LGBTQ* community

  1. Good luck with the project and thank you for highlighting an important issue.