New podcast series – ‘Kooth’s Booths’ – explores the connections between sexuality, gender identity and mental health with young people in Hull
“Happy Pride month to you all!” is how the conversation starts between Pippa, Josh and Aaliyah, three young people from Hull. Drawing from their experiences, they have created a podcast to provide an eye-opening insight into how being a part of the LGBTQ+ community may contribute to mental health issues, whilst highlighting some important messages and where young people can get support.
The new podcast series, Kooth’s Booths, is created by young people, for young people. The podcasts are highlighting issues that young people face in Hull, and how Kooth.com, an anonymous, online, mental health and wellbeing platform can help to support them. Kooth.com, which is commissioned by NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, gives young people aged 11-18 access to 1-1 counselling and support, discussion boards with other young people, feel good playlists, plus much more content to support positive mental health and wellbeing.
“Being part of the LGBTQ+ community, have you ever found that it has impacted your mental health?” asked Pippa, to which she received a resounding ‘yes!’ from both Aaliyah and Josh.
Aaliyah said: “I don’t know if anyone says no and means it.”
Discussing labels and how their sexuality is used to define them, the group identified some common themes they have all experienced. “Do either of you get introduced as the token gay?” asked Aaliyah, “because whenever I’m with my friends they’ll introduce me and say: ‘this is Aaliyah, she’s bi[-sexual].’”
Continuing that theme, Pippa joked: “Nobody introduces you as Pippa the Sagittarius!”
Josh said all the ‘popular’ girls at school would ask him to be their ‘gay best friend’, which he hated. “Exactly,” said Pippa, “I’ve never understood that, surely it’s just a ‘best friend?’, you don’t label anyone else as the short best friend or the fat best friend.”
Continuing the discussion, Pippa spoke about her decision not to put a label on her sexuality; “I don’t see why I personally should put a label on it because that leads to a lot of targeted hate, they have a label to shout at you. I don’t want to label myself and I shouldn’t have to do it for anyone else’s wants or needs.”
Josh said: “When I was growing up, a lot of humour was based around homophobia, and I’m not proud of it but I was quite homophobic, but some of that was because of these feelings that I had [around sexuality]. People would call me names and I would brush it off, but then I realised, maybe words can hurt.”
The group discussed whether they felt they could seek support for their mental health growing up, recognising that they wanted to talk about the feelings they were experiencing, but in doing so they would have to come out to a parent, friend, or a professional. As the Kooth.com service is completely anonymous, young people can speak about how they feel with a supportive professional or like-minded young people without fear of being identified.
Pippa said: “I’ve had a lot of mental health issues growing up, not just associated with my gender or sexuality, and I would have 100% used Kooth because it’s anonymous.”
Josh said: “One thing I struggle with is thinking I’m alone and not having anyone to talk to because all my friends will hate me for it, but doing it more anonymously seems like a great idea to combat that. You’re not talking to someone you know, but someone who knows how to help you and that is why I like Kooth a lot.”
You can listen to the full podcast from Pippa, Aaliyah and Josh on Spotify now, plus you can follow Kooth’s Booths on Spotify to be the first to listen as more topics are discussed. Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/show/4VD9q4nB9oeZf4HHJdGUb4
To sign up to Kooth, visit www.kooth.com