Stonewall Cymru research reveals the ‘double stigma’ surrounding gay mental health issues

Launch of first ever lesbian, gay and bisexual mental health report in Wales

‘Double Stigma’, a scoping exercise by Stonewall Cymru in partnership with mental health organisations, finds that mental health services in Wales are highly under resourced and ill-equipped to deal with lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) issues. The first ever study conducted in Wales reveals the double stigma experienced by LGB people with mental health issues. This double stigma stems from society’s prejudicial attitudes towards both mental health issues and people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Experiences of discrimination were more to likely have detrimental effects on mental health and well being; particularly when coming out as LGB irrespective of age.  Many respondents talked about this ‘double stigma’ as impacting on their daily lives, for example, in terms of treatment from others and their level of engagement with the general community and LGB life.

Key findings:

  • Over two thirds of respondents are ‘out’ to mental health providers.
  • 39% of those ‘out’ have experienced homophobic discrimination.
  • Respondents reported an assumption made by mental health professions that being LGB was the root cause of their mental health issues; an assumption that had consequences to individuals in their treatment plan.
  • Over half of respondents said that their experience in this respect had impacted or were likely to impact on their willingness to access mental health services or be out about their sexual orientation.
  • Respondents are less willing to be ‘out’ about their mental health issues than sexual orientation. For example, 81% are out about their sexual orientation to their friends, whilst only 31% are out about their mental health issues.

Liz Morgan, Director of Stonewall Cymru, said: “There is still much work to be done to improve the lives and inclusion of LGB people with mental health issues in Wales. We hope that our findings will lead to a greater dialogue and collaboration between LGB specialist providers and mental health services across Wales. In this way myths may be dispelled, with the result that services may be provided which are appropriate to the needs of LGB people with mental health issues.”

Sponsored by Helen Mary Jones AM the report launches today at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, with speeches by the research team and international rugby referee Nigel Owens.

Observations from lesbian, gay and bisexual people included in the research:

“I think my private counsellor has a conservative attitude to homosexuality which makes me feel uncomfortable disclosing information about myself. After coming out to her there has been an issue of confidentiality and she believes my private life to be a cause of my mental health problems”, Glen.

“A senior female nurse who was my personal keyworker whilst an in-patient in NHS psychiatric hospital refused to continue to work with me when I was 'outed' by my mother in casual conversation.”, Sarah. 

“Very few service providers understand this….I struggle to convey that my sexuality and my current relationship are in fact areas of real confidence and strength for me, and my depression is genuinely linked to factors unrelated to my relationship or my sexuality”, Alison.

Megan Evans 02920 237744
Eleanor Hicks 02920 237744

For more information on the project click here.

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