Mastering wellness: LGBT people's understanding of wellbeing through interest sharing

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Abstract

The wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people has generated considerable research interest over 30 years. An alternative perspective to the consensus of increased LGBT mental health risk is put forward in light of research with general populations on social wellbeing through community involvement. This qualitative research is aligned with emergent research trends problematising the dominant ‘at risk’ representation. Through 10 in-depth interviews with 11 LGBT people living in Ireland involved in physical, creative and social activities, within and outside LGBT communities, this study explored the relationship between LGBT wellbeing and interest sharing. The theme of ‘mastering wellness’ emerged from the personal narratives, emphasising participants’ agency regarding their wellbeing. Participants’ openness in discussing mental health contrasts with the Irish population. Respondents generally understood that anyone may experience periods of mental ill-health and equally experience times of wellbeing. This suggests potentially stigmatised communities simultaneously challenge the stigmatising representation of LGBT identities and mental health and binary constructs of normal/abnormal. The implications of this study underscore the need for nursing policy and practice initiatives promoting wellbeing within and beyond LGBT communities.

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