World Health Day: Depression and sexually transmitted infections go hand in hand

Colega Madrid, a collective of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transexuales, presents their campaign “Healthy Pride,” which will focus on the launch of its consultation service and the mobilization of fifty volunteers for World Pride, to coincide with the celebration of World Health Day.

In 2017, the theme of World Health Day is depression. This sickness affects a person’s capacity to complete the most basic tasks, provoking anguish y generating negative effects in personal relationships.

Depression affects the LGBT community in a special way, with twice the number of LGBT people affected compared to heterosexual people. Our community carries around a large emotional weight, derived from daily encounters with discrimination, psychological and physical violence, rejection (in larger society and within the LGBT community itself) and, especially, loneliness.

In fact, the psychological pain that the LGBT collective suffers, from infancy to adulthood, has made it so that the rate of suicide in the LGBT community is ten times greater than that of the heterosexual community. Furthermore, research also reflects a greater possibility for LGBT folks to abuse alcohol and drugs and to suffer from a sexually transmitted infection.

The good news is that depression and suicide, provoked by these psychological damages, can be prevented. For this reason it is important that the LGBT community know about the services that exist to support it, such as those offered at Colega Madrid: social assistance, legal advice, psychological support, support for drug addicts, information about sexually transmitted infections…

Against the risks, “Healthy Pride”

Faced with these worrying facts, Colega Madrid presents its campaign “Healthy Pride” which seeks to promote healthy relationships in the LGBT world as the backbone of positive mental health and coincides with World Health Day and Madrid World Pride.

Before and after World Pride 2017 takes place in our region, Colega Madrid will realize a campaign of awareness of and prevention against sexually transmitted infections. The main focus of the campaign “Healthy Pride” will be the services that our collective offers by appointment to the community and that Madrid and the southern region will fund.

Our web application, based in the realization of quick HIV tests and psychosocial attention, is the first of its kind in Spain. Through the website, anyone who needs our services can sign up for a consultation with our professionals. Furthermore, we guarantee the confidentiality of our clients.

Throughout the campaign, Colega Madrid will continue to provide the personalized attention that characterizes our work. This service will be reinforced with specialized volunteers who speak various languages and are knowledgeable in intercultural medicine to address the demand that will arise with the arrival of millions of people for World Pride. Furthermore, if necessary, our professionals will follow-up with clients and personally accompany them to their appointments.

The campaign Healthy World will also include an education component in which professionals and volunteers from Colega will distribute preventative materials to protect from sexually transmitted infections and resolve doubts about hot topics for LGBT madrileños.

A reference center in the region

Colega Madrid is the only organization in the region that attends to clients daily and continually. In 2016, 450 people visited our headquarters in Madrid and Getafe for our quick HIV tests alone. But each year thousands are attended to for other reasons, such as psychosocial attention and legal counsel.

Furthermore, the association counts on action protocols and patient referral programs of the Programa LGBT de la Comunidad de Madrid and the Centro Sanitario Sandoval, which specialize in sexually transmitted infections, and the institutional support of the Ayuntamiento de Madrid, the agencia Salud Madrid and the Ayuntamiento de Getafe.

“Last year there were more than 160,000 people in Spain with HIV, and 18% of them did not know they had it,” says Colega Madrid president Samir Bargachi. “Often knowledge of the infections provokes an increase in discrimination against and rejection of a person, by the person themself, by society, o by the very LGBT community,” he continues.

“This rejection can lead to mental health issues. Therefore we want to show the importance of being healthy, mentally, so that people can also be healthy physically. That’s why we emphasize our consultation services so much, because we want the community to know that we are here with them, ready to help,” Bargachi concludes.

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News Colega warns against the increased influence of depression