This page has been created for LGB community members, their friends and families, and also for healthcare service providers. Mental ill health of many different forms is intimately linked to reactions to encountered prejudice, discrimination and rejection. These are the realities experienced by LGB people the world over in those societies where homophobia has been unchallenged or even encouraged: it is still not uncommon for healthcare service providing organisations to not see the connection between the cause – homophobia – and the effect – psychological and emotional ill health.
According to a MIND/University College of London report (2003) on mental health of lesbian, gay men and bisexual people, found that up to 36 per cent of gay men, 26 per cent of bisexual men, 42 per cent of lesbians and 61 per cent of bisexual women recounted negative or mixed reactions from mental health professionals when being open about their sexuality. This position has of course been changing over the past decade, but the reality is that still there is too little done to address the issue of mental health care services and mental healthcare service professionals not understanding the interconnection between discrimination and prejudice encountered by LGBT people and mental health issues.
An important starting point for awareness of healthcare access and experience of health and social care services in the Bournemouth Dorset & Poole area of LGB and also Transgender communities members is the report (2015) that resulted from a survey and related research commissioned by the Dorset CCG. This report (below) led to the creation of the pan-Dorset health & social care LGB&T Health Advisory Group (http://lgbtdorsetequality.network/?page_id=64 ).
In May 2016 the LGB&T Dorset Equality Network was responsible for providing guidance and information to the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for developing the sexual orientation Protected Characteristic section of its Equality & Diversity intranet information resources.
Useful to know information:
We include some elements of this information resource in a number of the bullet points below, to which have been added further information sections from an LGB&T community perspective. We hope these details can be of general use, as well as to healthcare professionals:
- Never assume heterosexuality in engaging with strangers and friends or even family members: many people self-identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual without being ‘Out.’
- General Practices and hospitals need to have policies and procedures in place that their frontline staff are familiar with and confident in implementing regarding homophobic behaviour that can and sometimes can be manifested by patients/service users who are homophobic, in reception areas and waiting rooms.
- The LGB&T Dorset Equality Network has helped the Royal Bournemouth Hospital to work with our community to make awareness public that the hospital operates a zero tolerance policy on homophobia and transphobia. We have also helped the hospital develop videos for staff awareness on how to engage with LGB&T patients and visitors
- Mental ill health caused by encountered homophobia and/or not being able to be self-identifying/out is commonly experienced by gay men and lesbians. Helplines exist that can help with both these issues, including being able to report homophobia – commonly this is just accepted as a fact of life. In fact UK law is there to support you if you encounter homophobic behaviour, which in many cases is defined as Hate Crime, which carries heavy penalties.
- Young LGB ‘questioning’ people who are coming to terms with being gay or lesbian rather than heterosexual can have a range of special health and wellbeing needs that heterosexual young people don’t. Some of these can relate to counselling about ‘coming Out’ and signposting to LGB support groups – ask your GP about what signposting help, you are entitled to make this request, and your GP should be able to advise
- Gay and lesbian people who regularly attend the ‘gay scene’ can in some cases be subject to alcohol consumption above the advised Department of Health recommendations for safe alcoholic beverage consumption. This is commonly associated with a sense of social context relaxation/euphoria by temporary freedom from homophobic and heterosexual dominant factors: at the same time responsible drinking is always advised – know your limit and respect it.
- Domestic Violence (DV) is commonly higher than average in gay and lesbian partnership contexts due most commonly to family rejection and heterosexual homophobic factors: this is something that the NHS and social services need to have supportive services in place for, including counselling. It is very common for those experiencing DV to not be aware that they are victims of what is very real and serious abuse regarded as a major crime.
- The main LGBT community helpline organisation for advice on DV is Broken Rainbow: http://www.brokenrainbow.org.uk/help/advice Helpline number: 0300 999 5428
- Elderly gay men and lesbians in rural areas exist and are subject to especially high factors of homophobic pressure and therefore having to stay ‘in the closet,’ causing a range of mental health issues due to social isolation and still commonly not-LGBT friendly rural local environments.
- BME (Black & Minority Ethnic) LGB&T people often face double discrimination and consequent vulnerabilities, as shown in the ‘One Minority at a Time’ (2012) report: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/resources/one-minority-time-2012 More information is provided about the issues faced by BME LGB’s, at the end of this webpage.
LGBTQ & Addiction information resource:
Substance use disorders have a greater effect on LGBTQ+ people than on the heterosexual population. The LGBTQ+ community must overcome several obstacles, including being denied substance abuse treatment because of their sexual identity. However, through the proper understanding and accommodation of LGBTQ+ care principles, substance abuse treatment can be successful.
Over the Rainbow: Advice, Support & Information for you!
Over the Rainbow is Proud to be Dorset, Bournemouth & Poole’s main resource and information point for mental health related topics:
‘Our counselling service is also available for you to discuss problems in a safe, confidential space with a qualified, professional counsellor, helping you to see things from a different perspective, think and act more productively and feel more confident in yourself. We work closely with local drug and alcohol agencies if you feel you need a referral to a specialist service.
We would like to empower and support you to take care of yourself as a whole, to educate you and provide easy access to condoms and lube, reducing the risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection.
We’re here to provide advice, support and information for a healthier community.’
1-2-1 help and support for people who may be experiencing issues with their sexuality, gender or sexual behaviours or who may be seeking information and support regarding their sexual health in general.
Tel: 0300 303 1948 (opt 4) (answerphone when unavailable).
Younger LGBT People:
Space Youth Project: For young Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual, Trans and questioning people under 25 based in Dorset, including Bournemouth and Poole.
If you have any questions or for a confidential chat call: Helen 07973 405280 or Sarah 07584 096444
For Friends & Family Members of LGB People:
Ricochet: Ricochet is a support group for the families and friends of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.
Older LGBT People:
Age UK Older LGBT people. Age Concern’s programme that seeks to address the needs of the often hidden population of older lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in the UK. http://openingdoorslondon.org.uk/
Regard: The national organisation for disabled LGBT people.
Broken Rainbow: http://www.brokenrainbow.org.uk/help/advice Helpline number: 0300 999 5428
BME (Black & Minority Ethnic):
Social support group for LGBT Muslims, their friends, families and supporters, and those questioning their sexuality or gender identity.
Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group
Friendship and support for Jewish gays, lesbians, bisexuals and their partners.
Bisexual Community information
Serving the world bisexual community.
Bi Community News
Website of the UK bisexual movement.
BME Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual People:
BME (Black & Minority Ethnic) LGB&T people often face double discrimination and consequent vulnerabilities, as shown in the ‘One Minority at a Time’ (2012) report: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/resources/one-minority-time-2012
This report by the Runnymede Trust and Stonewall is regarded as a definitive work concerning the issues faced by BME LGB people, and indicates factors which the NHS and social care organisations need to take into account in engaging and seeking to support this double-Protected Characteristics community that faces particular health and wellbeing dangers and issues, and pronounced isolation.
Commonly, for example gay or lesbian members of ethnic minority groups from cultures where homophobia is found in its more extreme forms may believe that a doctor or nurse at a general practice, etc. whom they believe to be from their own country of origin or racial group, may need to change to see a different person because they fear their sexual orientation may be revealed.
In practice all NHS healthcare professionals are required to follow equality and inclusion policies that are there to ensure UK law and statutes concerning homophobic and transphobic perspectives, that outlaw the latter, are followed.
More generally the combination of encountered racism, homophobia or transphobia, and estrangement from one’s given BME/ethnic minority culture’s main community because one is ‘Out’ can cause emotional and psychological problems.
A UK Nepal Friendship Society survey (2015) about the experience of Nepali community members in South East London accessing and using NHS services highlighted how serious can be the issues involved for BME LGBT people in regard to clashes between cultural and social traditional beliefs and belonging to sexual and gender minority communities. Out of a sample size of 320+ participants, not one ticked the diversity monitoring question for sexual orientation: this meant that with an estimated 6-7.5% of the world’s population who are commonly believed to be non-heterosexual (LGB) 0% of participants in the survey ticked the LGB options on the form, indicating the scale of culture related homophobia that exists within this UK BME community.