Category Archives: Shame Project

Mental Health and the Queer Community

I think that it is about time that we get real about mental illness in the queer community. Certainly we talk about youth suicide as a result of bullying in the queer community but not much else. And, even if we do talk about queer youth suicide we do it in a way that others people as victims we need to mourn. The truth is we do need time to mourn and grieve the losses of our community. Sometimes these losses are so impactful that we time away. However it is more than just bullying that affects our community another major factor is mental illness.


According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, mental illness affects one in five Canadians directly and the other four will have someone in their life with a mental illness. Mental illness includes any psychological condition that has a major negative impact on a person’s well-being and mental health. This includes depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorders and many more listed in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association.


Within the queer community, I think there is some extra stigma surrounding mental illness due to our history with psychiatry. Up until 1973, being gay, lesbian or bisexual was considered a mental illness and still today being trans can land you with a mental illness diagnosis, especially if you’re transsexual and trying to access health care in Ontario. Being considered mentally ill simply for who we are certainly acts as a deterrent towards accessing mental health care. And even for those of us who are not pathologized, there is still a very serious concern that our sexual orientation or gender identity will come under scrutiny by mental health professionals.


The reality, however, is that we do live with mental illness in the queer community. And, in my experience, I’ve seen higher rates of mental illness in the queer community than in some others, most likely due to the stresses that we live with as a marginalized population. Let us stop dismissing mental illness in our communities and let us say, yes I live with mental illness and I’m queer. 


If you are a mental health service provider and want to make it better for queer clients email If you want to help end stigma in our communities volunteer at If you need queer-specific counselling support make use of our Celebrating Self counselling program by emailing


-Jade Pichette

Education Programs Coordinator

PTS – A Centre for Ottawa’s Queer Community; 613.563.4818

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Introduction to Shame and Sexuality

Dear beloved avid readers, supporters, and general inquirers,

My name is Joshua Hummel and I have been asked by PTS Executive Assistant Kayla Miller to create a new workshop called Shame & Sexuality for September of 2012. The new workshop will focus on the two core concepts that are indicated by the workshop’s name. It will consist of eight sessions that are two hours in length and each session will place emphasis on a particular topic on shame as it relates to sexuality. While the project is currently in its preliminary stages as I figure out the most important topics that need to be covered in each session, Kayla and I have agreed upon an initial five:

* Shame & Orientation

* Shame & Sexual Activities

* Shame & Consent

* Shame & Non-Conformity

* Shame & Expression of One’s Identity

These initial five topics may be subject to change as they are debated and scrutinized. However, those who are considering whether or not to take this workshop when it is finalized can expect some elements that are certain to be present in the workshop. The workshop will mostly be approached from a social and psychological angle with contributions from other related disciplines. The workshop is going to be professional and research-based while simultaneously interactive, explorative, and fun. The goal of the workshop is to be informative and also self-fulfilling. Individuals who take the workshop will learn about research conducted on each topic and they will also be exposed to philosophical debate and general conversation as part of the interactive exercises in Shame & Sexuality. The atmosphere will be intellectually stimulating while also being light, funny, co-operative, and group oriented. Members will be encouraged to make friends and contribute to the discussions as they occur but must remain respectful and considerate to others at all times.

If anyone is interested in helping me with this project they are welcome to contact me at

I am looking for creative, outgoing, fun, and intelligent collaborators who are passionate about PTS and professionalism.


— Joshua Hummel, PTS Volunteer

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