LGBTIQ+ Mutual Aid Groups Provide Social Support Mechanisms Addressing Trauma And Depression Two Studies Find-Part 1

Two studies one by Muyunga-Mukasa and another by Ayesiga, targeting LGBTIQQ communities show the resilience they exhibit amidst persecution, dejection, rejection, destitution and how they have arisen to craft and create their own paths to a happy life.

They are no cry-babies no more!

They have leveraged their situation and engaged in activities to promote self-belief, self-preservation and self-determination. They have harnessed their agency and navigated the social contexts as they enhance their autonomy. This is in form of daily activities of life: dressing, housing, talents, expression, and productivity, commitment to work and how they appropriate resources around them.


A study by Ayesiga (2019) raises important points. Mutual Aid Groups play a social Support role filling the gap of emotional growth as LGBTIQQ are faced with sexuality, gender and identity dysphoria and euphoria issues.  

The report ” Invisible Scars” compiled by Elvis Herbert Ayesiga, the director of programs at Ice Breakers Uganda is both a personal self-discovery story and a study into factors supporting or subverting navigation to pursuance of a quality life by LGBTIQQ in Uganda. It explores emotional growth, intrapersonal and interpersonal relationship affirming life skills.

According to the report, "while individuals from the LGBT community are likely to experience a mental health condition at three times the rate, the chances of suffering from a major depression are twice as high as that of the general population." This  is informative. It is true there is vulnerability and susceptibility faced by LGBTIQ+ Identifying or Transitioning Persons. The report continues to show the diagnoses of "the risk of a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder."  These are higher in this demography. For those of us who have provided support, mental health issues manifest as: Fear of engaging in community activities; a barrier to agency, autonomy and self-determination; it leads to engaging in habits such as alcohol, drug and substance abuse which lead to disorders; it leads to less productivity and hence destabilized life. These and more manifestations have led to poor self-esteem and self-confidence. 

But, all is not lost! 

Some of the ways to overcome this have been devised by many LGBTIQQ-led organizations. The LGBTIQQ Social Support or Mutual Aid Groups do a commendable job. 

Whereas the services at their disposal are basic, they nevertheless, have tailored, mobilized and appropriated mechanisms addressing traumas and vulnerabilities. 

These organizations have shown that resilience like gender spectrum is expansive. This report is evidence that there are many ways to address stress, depression. 

Telling one's own story leveraged against a backdrop of social contexts shows a new norm. There are various LGBTIQQ Organizations using this approach. Let us support them equally. 

No one organization is doing better work than the other. All organizations are equally relevant. All activities are equally necessary.
Dr Frank Mugisha (fourth from left), the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), and other LGBTI activists launch the report “Invisible Scars”. Photo Courtesy of UhspaUganda



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