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Discrimination contributing to high levels of depression in LGBT community

Call for better training of professionals and improved support services in wake of worrying survey

LGBT, depression
Survey highlights link between discrimination and depression among GLBT people

Abuse and discrimination, including hostility from healthcare professionals, is contributing to high levels of depression among LGBT people, research found.

A YouGov poll of 5,000 lesbian, gay, bi and trans people by charity Stonewall found more than half of LGBT people suffered depression in the last year.

The proportion rises to 69 per cent among those who experienced anti-LGBT hate crime, with 76 per cent of victims reporting episodes of anxiety. 

Stonewall expressed shock that almost a quarter of LGBT people heard negative comments about their community from staff when accessing healthcare. As a result, one in seven said they avoided getting treatment.

Of those who do seek support, one in eight said they experienced some form of unequal treatment. A quarter said they faced a lack of understanding of their specific health needs, rising to 62 per cent for trans patients.

Paul Twocock, director of campaigns, policy and research at Stonewall, said: ‘Simply being lesbian, gay, bi or trans shouldn’t mean you’re at higher risk of experiencing poorer mental health or should have to expect unequal treatment from healthcare services in Britain today. Unfortunately, this report shows that for many, it still does.”

The survey found the situation particularly concerning for trans people with more than one in ten (12 per cent) attempting suicide in the last year. Almost half trans people (46 per cent) had thoughts about taking their own life.

The number of children referred to services over gender identity issues has risen in the UK from 97 in 2009/10 to 2,519 in 2017/18, sparking an investigation by the Government.

Social workers in Wales recently called for more training to help them better support a growing transgender population.

A mother who sought support for her transgender daughter told PSW she was failed by services: “I had been phoning CAMHS in tears saying I needed help but they just said ‘keep me informed’. Social services failed to deliver anything also.”

The Westminster Government recently appointed a national adviser for LGBT healthcare and pledged £1 million to improve health and social care for LGBT people.