The Health and Health Related Behaviours of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual adults report (trans status and gender identity were not covered) makes for sobering reading.
And while it covers all aspects of health, from smoking, drinking and acute sickness, it’s the mental health section that highlights the huge work that needs to be done to improve the wellbeing of LGB people.
The National Centre for Social Research analysed data from the 2011-2018 Health Survey for England, and researchers found 16 per cent of LGB respondents had a long-term mental, behavioural, or developmental disorder. That compares with six per cent of heterosexual respondents.
It comes after LGBT Foundation research found that over 50 per cent of respondents to its own survey reported suffering from depression, while 20 per cent of the general population is said to be afflicted.
“There is always a risk that people at the margins who experience discrimination, rejection, and multiple barriers, are not visible, and end up even more excluded,” says Paul Martin, Chief Executive of the LGBT Foundation.
“We want to shine a light on their experiences and ensure that their needs are recognised in the services of the future which focus on people, how they live their lives in their communities, and support them to achieve their aspirations.”
Stigma and prejudice are still rife, despite strides being made towards greater equality, and the simple fact remains that LGB people are not accessing the services they need in order to prevent reaching crisis point. That is reflected in the survey’s findings that the number of LGB people who drink to excess stands at 32 per cent, compared with 24 per cent of heterosexuals.
The hope is that this pair of reports can boost NHS resources and target them more effectively at LGB people who are either unwilling to come forward or simply unaware of the services on offer.
How to get help
If you’re LGBTQ+ and struggling with your mental health, Switchboard can help.
It runs a dedicated, confidential helpline, which is open from 10am to 10pm every day, as well as a live chat service and email address. It is volunteer run and all staff self-identify as LGBTQ+.
Call: 0300 330 0630
Words: Joe Minihane