Putting happiness back into being gay: unique project positively transforming the lives of gay Londoners
“The most life-changing course I have ever done”
– Kevin M, aged 39, participant
Chris Samsa and Rob Hutchinson are co-founders of the Gay Happiness Project, the UK’s first and only wellbeing programme designed to help men combat the growing challenges of modern gay life including chem sex, app addiction, social media pressure, body insecurities and ageism.
While the general issue of male suicide is well reported, LGBT-specific issues receive less media attention. According to charity Stonewall, gay and bisexual men are almost twice as likely (13%) to feel moderate to severe levels of mixed depression and anxiety compared to other men (7%). Drug and alcohol use is seven times higher in the LGBT population than the general population. Half of gay and bisexual men (50%) said they have felt life was not worth living compared with 17% of all men.
The Gay Happiness Project fills a void in services currently on offer for the gay community. Its aim is primarily to be preventative, uniquely equipping men with enduring life skills and a peer support network to prevent them falling into negative behavior patterns and future mental health issues.
“In a huge city full of gay men, we are actually becoming more isolated and lonelier. It’s never been easier to hook up, but it is harder than ever to form meaningful relationships and to maintain a healthy balance. More and more gay men are trying to fill the void with self-abusive behaviour” – Sergei K, course participant.
Participants are asked to take psychological tests at the start and end of the course and the results show impressive improvements. On average, participants experience a 16% increase in ‘Authentic Happiness’ score; CES-D depression is reduced by 13% and Satisfaction with Life increases by 17% by the end of the 8-week programme.
Chris and Robert developed the course in response to their personal experiences of poor mental wellbeing in the gay community. “We couldn’t bear to hear of another outwardly successful and ‘happy’ guy on Facebook had taken his own life. We felt there was a real need to offer practical help specifically designed for gay men,” comments Christopher.
“The external image projected by gay men can be very different from their internal experience. There can be a stigma attached to showing vulnerability which can leave gay men feeling reluctant to open up to friends or to seek help,” said Robert.
Our aim is to train people how to reach that goal through a unique combination of emotional intelligence, mindfulness skills and practical techniques,“ he added.
Participants leave with a toolkit of practical resources based on the latest findings from positive psychology, applied neuroscience and mindfulness including guided mediations. Alumni also benefit from an online community and social events to help them build a long-lasting support network of buddies.
The Gay Happiness Project’s October course is now open for bookings at www.gayhappinessproject.com.
Chris and Rob are also launching the first-ever Gay Happiness Project Retreat taking place in the stunning surrounds of Le Languedoc, South of France. The retreat will be a condensed version of the programme focusing on life-skills, mindfulness, self-care, yoga and making authentic connections. For more information and to book, visit https://www.gayhappinessproject.com/retreat
“The course took me from a dark period in my life to a place where I am able to manage my emotions in a more positive way. Robert and Chris have provided me with the tools to live a happier more fulfilling life. If you are going to give yourself one gift this year let it be this course, it's the gift that keeps on giving” - John P, course participant.
Source - Christopher Samsa Co-Founder - "Gay Happiness Project"