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Cara Delevingne has opened up about her mental health, revealing that struggling to come to terms with her sexuality led to her having suicidal thoughts.
The 28-year-old actor, who identifies as pansexual, told actor Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop wellness podcast that she suffered from “massive depression” while wrestling with her sexuality, and still occasionally wishes she “could just be straight”.
“I do correlate the massive depression and the suicidal moments of my life because I was so ashamed of ever being that. But, actually, that was the part of me that I love so much and accept,” she says.
Delevingne said she is still coming to terms with her sexuality now.
She added: “There is still a part of me where I’m like, ‘Oh, I wish I could just be straight.’ There is still that side to it. It is really complicated.”
People who identify as pansexual are not limited in their attraction by gender identity or biological sex.
The Carnival Row star said she grew up in an “old-fashioned household,” adding: “I didn’t know anyone who was gay.
"I didn’t know that was a thing and actually I think growing up I wasn’t knowledgeable of the fact that I was probably quite homophobic,” she said.
On the idea of a same-sex relationship, Delevingne said: “I was like, ‘Oh my god, I would never, that’s disgusting, ugh.'”
Delevingne previously discussed her sexuality, gender fluidity and the struggles she faced growing up with Variety magazine.
"I grew up in an old-fashioned, repressed English family," she said. "And I used the word 'gay' to describe things which were sh*t all the time... I think that came from the fact that I just didn't want to admit who I was."
"I didn't want to upset my family," she continues. "I was deeply unhappy and depressed. When you don't accept a part of yourself or love yourself, it's like you're not there, almost."
Mental health and sexuality
During the first lockdown, the LGBT Foundation reported that the number of new calls they received had doubled, and a recent survey of almost 3,000 school pupils by LGBT+ charity Just Like Us found that the pandemic has resulted in LGBT+ young people being more than twice as likely as their peers to worry daily for their mental health.
Eloise Stonborough, associate director of research and policy at Stonewall said celebrities opening up about their mental health struggles surrounding their sexuality can help others feel less alone.
"It’s really powerful to hear Cara Delevingne speak about her experiences with her mental health and coming to terms with who she is," she tells Yahoo UK.
"Her story will help others to know they are not alone and that there is support out there. It also shows how important it is we all work towards creating inclusive environments so LGBT+ people feel safe & supported to come out.
"Being lesbian, gay, bi or trans shouldn’t mean that you’re more likely to experience poor mental health. Sadly, the discrimination that LGBT+ people face from family, friends, and in wider society often impacts their mental health and wellbeing."
Read more: 7 lesser known symptoms of depression
Recent Stonewall research shows that over half (52%) of LGBT+ people experienced depression last year and one in eight LGBT people aged 18-24 have attempted to take their own life.
"After a difficult year for all of us, including LGBT+ people, providing LGBT+ people with access to appropriate and supportive mental health services is more important than ever," says Stonborough.
Watch: 10 pansexual celebrities you need to know about.
Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind, says that though as a society we have made strides in tackling stigma surrounding mental health issues, it is vital we keep making progress, particularly in terms of helping those who identify as LGBTQ+.
“In recent years, we have seen encouraging and significant improvements in attitudes towards those of us experiencing mental health problems," he tells Yahoo UK.
"Although we’ve made some great progress, we can’t afford to lose momentum now; there is still much to be done when it comes to making sure that no one faces a mental health problem alone."
Buckley says it is more important than ever that we protect and promote the mental health and wellbeing of everyone who identifies as LGBTQ+.
"We know that LGBTQ+ people are already more likely than the general population to experience mental health problems, to struggle to access and/or benefit from mainstream mental health services, and even to die by suicide, often because of trauma or discrimination they may experience as a result of their sexual orientation," he continues.
“At Mind, we’ve found that when celebrities like Cara Delevingne speak publicly about their own mental health problems, it can help inspire others to do the same."
Mind research has found that 25% of people said hearing a celebrity talk openly about their own mental health had inspired them to seek help or get support for themselves.
"In turn, more than one in three of those asked said seeing celebrity mental health stories had prompted them to start a conversation with a friend or loved one about mental health," Buckley continues.
"This shows how the power of celebrity can serve as a real force for change for how we all think and act about mental health problems."
What to do if you identify as LGBTQ+ and are struggling with your mental health
The NHS recommends getting help as soon as you feel you need it. "It's never too late to get help, no matter how big or small your problems might seem," the site explains.
Consider talking to your GP as they will know what support is available locally and can help you decide which option is best for you.
When discussing your situation, the NHS recommends trying to be as honest as possible so your GP can suggest the best type of support for you.
Mind also has help for LGBTQ+ people who are experiencing mental health problems.
“We advise that anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ struggling with their mental health to access our new service Rainbow Mind," Buckley recommends.
What to do if you're having suicidal thoughts
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are some useful steps you can take to cope with them in the present.
Charity Rethink suggests:
Just try to get through today rather than focusing on the future.
Talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust or an emotional helpline.
Contact a health professional such as your GP or Community Mental Health Team (CMHT).
Try to do activities you enjoy which take your mind off what you are thinking.
If you are in real danger of taking your own life call emergency services on 999 or go to Accident and Emergency (A&E).
What to do if you’re worried about someone else
If you’re worried about someone, one of the best things you can do is try to get them to open up to you. Samaritans suggest the following:
Often people want to talk, but wait until someone asks how they are. Try asking open questions, like ‘What happened about…’, ‘Tell me about…’, ‘How do you feel about…’
Repeat back what they say to show you understand, and ask more questions.
Focus on your friend’s feelings instead of trying to solve the problem – it can be of more help and shows you care.
Respect what they tell you. Sometimes it’s easy to want to try and fix a person’s problems, or give them advice. Let them make their own decisions.
- The Samaritans provides a free, confidential, 24-hour support available by calling 116 123 or emailing email@example.com. You don’t have to be suicidal to ask The Samaritans for help.
- For information, support and advice about mental health problems and where to get support, visit Mind’s website at www.mind.org.uk or call Mind’s Infoline on 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 6.00pm).
- Side by Side is a safe, moderated online peer support community where people aged 18+ with mental health problems can share their story, connect with others and access Mind’s wider information and resources www.sidebyside.mind.org.uk
- Shout is the UK’s first 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and need immediate help: www.giveusashout.org
Help for those in the LGBT+ community
- Gendered Intelligence - The organisation runs youth groups in London, Leeds and Bristol for trans, non-binary and questioning young people. It also runs a peer-led support group in London for people aged 18 to 30.
- Imaan - A charity that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) Muslims, providing an online forum where people can share experiences and ask for help.
- Mind LGBTQ - Get information about mental health support for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, non-binary, queer or questioning (LGBTIQ).
- Pink Therapy - Has an online directory of therapists who work with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer or questioning (LGBTIQ), and people who are gender- and sexual-diverse (GSD).
- Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline - Switchboard provides a listening service for LGBT+ people over the phone, via email and online chat. It can provide you with contact details of an LGBT-friendly therapist.
Additional reporting PA.