When you're LGBTQ+, your chosen family can be almost as important (and sometimes more important) than your actual family. But what do you do when you struggle to find that dream group of friends, or 'tribe' - and loneliness sets in?
Well, YouTuber Dan Howell has your back.
Part of a four-part video series for World Mental Health Day (which took place on 10 October) the star has teamed up with Attitude and other LGBTQ content creators to share tips and advice for staying mentally healthy and happy.
Reflecting in the new video, 29-year-old Dan says: "That experience, going to school, when you feel like you're the only gay in the village, as it were? You need to go out there, and find the people who make you feel less alone. It's so important."
Amen to that!
"Lots of us can feel lonely and isolated, which is why finding your tribe can be liberating," adds Dan, who opens up about his own mental health and coming out journey in the Attitude November issue - out now to download and to order globally.
Other YouTubers who offer up advice on the subject of loneliness in our video include Amp Summers, Chandler Wilson, Emi Salida, Justin 'King of Reads', Jessica Kellgren, Dion Yorkie and Sebb Argo.
Dan Howell (Photography: Markus Bidaux)
Continues Dan: "If I'm ever in my life feeling isolated, on an island where there are not enough people around me who share my perspective, I go onto the internet and watch the shows, listen to queer pop stars, watch Drag Race, see what my friends are up to on Instagram, and go: [...] 'there are people who exist who are just like me.'"
Tips for finding your tribe
* Social media can provide a safe space to meet new people
* Take your time to find the right people for you
* Join an online community that shares your interests
* Being yourself and opening up to people can be easier online
* Find several groups to interact with to fulfil your social needs
* Finding your tribe is an ongoing process - they will change, just as you will too
* Seeking out media that speaks to you can help you feel better about yourself
* Don't be scared to reach out to old friends you miss
* Create an atmosphere of sharing
Ask 'Are you OK?' if you're worried about a friend
On practical advice for forging deeper connections, Dan says: "There's nothing wrong with asking anyone you know the simple question: 'Are you OK?' You never know when they might need it.
"If you have a friend who seems like they're more distant than usual, if they're drawing away, they don't want to hang out as much, or is they're just being quieter on social media...
"There might not be anything wrong! They might just be busy getting on with their life. But just say: 'Hi, how are you doing?'"
Photography: Markus Bidaux
"It's the awkward question that so many people feel like they don't want to ask it, they're afraid to be asked it... But the moment one person does it, maybe it's the branch they were looking for the whole time."
Dan Howell's mental health book/self-help guide 'You Will Get Through This Night' is set for release in May 2021.