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Half of LGBTQ people experience depression

Stonewall’s latest study shows the devastating impact of discrimination on health

new study into the LGBTQ community’s experience of mental health has shown a far higher risk factor of depression, anxiety and other mental illness than the rest of the general population. 

Released today (November 8), the LGBT in Britain: Health Report – conducted by Stonewall and YouGov – highlights that half of LGBT people (52 per cent) have experienced depression in the last year, and three in five (61 per cent) had anxiety. 

The report examines the impact of discrimination, harassment, and hate crime on the mental health of LGBT people, surveying over 5,000 people in the UK. Two-thirds of LGBT people who have experienced hate crime (69 per cent) have had depression, and three in four (76 per cent) reported having anxiety episodes.

Statistics also emphasised a shockingly high level of hostility and unfair treatment inflicted on LGBT people when accessing healthcare services. 

“I got sectioned after a suicide attempt and the nurse said that my mental health problems were due to allowing Satan in my soul. If I just accepted my true gender then God could forgive me,” 19-year-old Elijah, from southeast England, said in a testimonial.

23 per cent of those surveyed had witnessed negative remarks about LGBT people from healthcare staff while accessing services, while 14 per cent said they have avoided treatment altogether for fear of the discrimination they may face.

Paul Twocock, the director of campaigns, policy and research at Stonewall, said in a statement: “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. 

“Despite some outstanding progress by committed individuals and institutions, we are still seeing a bleak picture of LGBT health – both mental and physical – in 2018.”

The case is particularly dire for trans people – as one in 10 trans people said they had attempted to take their own life. Trans people face particularly horrific treatment from wider society, as divisions rose during the Gender Recognition Act consultation

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s chief executive, outlines in the study that the persistence of such inequalities “calls for leadership from the very top and action at all levels”. There must be better training for all health and social care staff, according to Stonewall, with specific guidance on how to support LGBT patients.

“The UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments must play an important role in this. For example, the UK Government implementing the commitments it made in the LGBT Action Plan, including ensuring that the National Adviser for LGBT healthcare in England has the remit and resources to drive change,” she says. “Knowing that we have somewhere to turn when our health is in crisis is crucial. These findings stand as a stark warning that for too many LGBT people, this still isn’t the case. 

“With strong leadership across government and the NHS, building on the best practice of health and social care providers across the country, we can bring forward the day when every LGBT person gets the healthcare support they need to lead a happy, healthy life.”

Read more of the LGBT in Britain: Health Report here.