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The journey behind my campaign Be Proud, Be Strong, Be Mentally Healthy?

Can you tell us a little more about your campaign "Be Strong, Be Proud, Be Mentally Healthy"

Offcourse. Mental health struggle is something very real and we all might experience Mental Health Issues or moments when we’re not feeling well. Research shows, people within the queer community are twice as likely to struggle with mental health. This can occur from events that happened at already at an early age. For example: lack of acceptance, religion, internal struggles, not feeling comfortable in your own body and much more. 


The goal is to raise awareness, reduce stigma, foster empathy and promote resources. For more information you can visit my website: https://www.timkusters.com/beproudbestrongbementallyhealthy 



How did you get the idea for this campaign?

It all began with my desire to contribute and be a positive ambassador for the queer community. Mental health is a growing concern affecting more people each day, and it's crucial to take action now to establish a support system. Mental health intersects with various topics and themes. For instance, when I first started to advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, my focus was primarily on the queer community's desire to have children. It became evident how mental health is impacted for same-sex couples with this shared goal. Encountering obstacles in achieving something we deeply desire can significantly affect our mental well-being.


Believing that all the causes we're fighting for converge at mental health, I am committed to advocating for better well-being for everyone.


Why is mental health so important to you?

Taking care of my mental health is super important to me because it's the starting point for everything good. When you're feeling good mentally, you can go after your goals and enjoy life more. It's not just about feeling happy – it's about having the clarity and energy to do what you want. And it's not just a personal thing – when we all prioritise mental health, we build a friendlier and more understanding community. It's like a domino effect – feeling good helps you, helps your relationships, and helps make the world a bit better and kinder for everyone.


What do you think most of us can do if we know someone struggling with their mental health?

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health challenges, it's essential to seek support. Here are some steps you can consider:


  1. Therapy/Counselling: Professional mental health support from therapists or counselors who are affirming and knowledgeable about Queer issues can be valuable.


  1. Support Groups: Joining Queer-affirming support groups can provide a sense of community and understanding.


  1. Educate Yourself: Learn about mental health and how it intersects with Queer identities to better understand and address these challenges.


  1. Advocate for Inclusivity: Advocate for inclusive and affirming spaces that respect and celebrate diverse identities within the Queer community.


Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, and there are resources and communities available to provide support. If you are in crisis, consider contacting a mental health helpline or reaching out to a mental health professional.


What would you say to those who feel lonely or who know that life is hard to live right now?

If you're feeling lonely or finding life difficult at the moment, I want you to know that you're not alone in experiencing these emotions. It's okay to feel this way, and reaching out for support can be a crucial step. Consider talking to friends, family, or a mental health professional who can offer understanding and assistance. Remember that it's okay to ask for help, and taking small steps to connect with others or engage in activities you enjoy can make a significant difference. You matter, and there are people who care about you and want to support you through tough times.


We often read articles about "Be happy with yourself", "This is how you become happier", "This is how you get a boyfriend" in weekly magazines and online - these are often superficial texts - what distinguishes your campaign from such texts?

My campaign tries to highlight the problem of mental health struggles within the LGBTQIA+ community to bring more awareness and give guidance to individuals who seek support.


Why do you think this mental health issue is particularly challenging for the gay community?

Mental health challenges within the queer community can come from various factors, and it's important to recognize that experiences vary among individuals. However, there are several common factors that may contribute to the particular challenges faced by the gay community in terms of mental health: social stigma and discrimination, internalised homophobia, isolation and rejection, minority stress, lack of supportive environments, trauma and bullying.


Do you think there are things the gay community can do better or otherwise so that we can collectively improve our mental health as a society?

I think a good first step to take is not being so hard on yourself or others. Everybody is perfect as their authentic selves. Accept others how you want to be accepted. Even in our own queer community I experience different groups not accepting one another. This is a pity and the world would be a nicer place if everybody was kind to each other. You never know what somebody is going through.


You can safely say that there is quite a lot of body pressure in the gay community, and when you are part of a minority it is important to belong to a group or a community - do you think any of this helps to challenge our mental health and what can we do about it?

I know for a fact that when you have a nice group of friends or family that support and try to understand you, this will have a positive effect on your mental state. It gives you the opportunity to talk about your feelings and feel comfortable.


What do you think would be the most effective means of improving mental health in the gay community?

Improving mental health in the gay community involves a well thought out approach that addresses various aspects of individuals' well-being. With our Be Proud. Be Strong. Be Mentally Healthy we aim for awareness through education and building a connection between individuals and support systems by promoting resources.


Why do you think it is so difficult to seek help if you feel depressed or lonely?

Seeking help for depression or loneliness can be difficult due to factors like social stigma, fear of rejection, perceived weakness, limited access to resources, and cultural barriers. Additionally, lack of awareness, denial, and communication challenges contribute to the reluctance in reaching out for support. Overcoming these barriers requires increased mental health awareness, reduced stigma, improved resource accessibility, and fostering supportive environments.


If you are seriously depressed or have major mental problems, you should of course seek professional help. But do you have any other tips on how to get over a somewhat difficult day?

Certainly, for overcoming a challenging day, don’t be to hard on yourself, consider activities like talking to a friend, engaging in hobbies, taking a walk, practicing mindfulness, or enjoying activities that bring comfort and relaxation.


While your involvement is voluntary, what do you anticipate from our politicians in this realm? 

I expect politicians to take concrete actions in support of the cause rather than offering mere rhetoric. This could involve implementing policies, allocating resources, and actively addressing issues related to the realm in question.


What are you planning to do to promote the campaign?

Be out there and spread awareness. In the upcoming year I will be joining multiple pride festivals in Europe to be visible with our campaign. I will be on stage to talk about this important topic, attent pride walks, be an ambassador and much more.


Further our campaign will be displayed online via our websites and social media channels. I hope to reach as many people as possible to have an impact.


What would be an important tool for you and your campaign if you could choose freely?

When you're advocating for equality and rights within Europe it could be very challenging to reach all EU countries. Luckily we nowadays have the internet where we are not stopped by borders. Content could be shared to people from all over Europe and with this possibility we can have a huge impact.


Do you yourself have examples of episodes in your life where you have felt that life has been tough - where you have got through it - with help from family, friends or others. What did you do yourself to get out of the situation?

I think everyone goes through moments in their life when they feel insecure or sad. Personally, I've had a few of those moments.


Questions like "Why am I gay?" and "Can I have children?" popped up when I hit puberty and realized I was attracted to guys instead of women. I often wished I was straight because I didn't know what the future held for me. Thoughts like whether people would accept me and if I could have children with my partner kept me occupied during my early years. I worried about facing discrimination or bullying.


I always had this drive to do well, and it still lingers at times. When I believe in something, I give my all. But it can also be tough because if things don't go as planned, I feel down and like I've failed or let people down. When that happens, I make sure not to just sit back. Instead, I spend time with loved ones or do activities I enjoy.


Now, I can proudly say that I'm happy with the person I've become. I'd love to help others dealing with mental health issues

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