A new report by Stonewall has revealed shocking levels of poor mental health amongst LGBT people in Scotland, compared to the general population. The report findings include:
- Half of LGBT people (49%) have experienced depression in the past year
- 52% of trans people have thought of taking their own life in the past year
- One in six LGBT people have deliberately harmed themselves in the last year
LGBT experiences of healthcare staff are also worryingly poor, with the report highlighting:
- 37% of trans people have avoided healthcare treatment for fear of discrimination
- 27% of LGBT people have experienced healthcare staff with a lack of understanding of specific lesbian, gay and bi health needs
- 59% of trans people have experienced staff without a clear understanding of trans health needs
The report has been produced based on YouGov polling of over 5,300 people across the UK (Scottish sample size: 1,261) conducted between February and April 2017.
Stonewall Scotland are now calling on the NHS and other healthcare providers to introduce training on specific LGBT patients’ needs for both mental and physical health. The campaigning organisation are also demanding a zero-tolerance approach to incidents of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic discrimination within the health service.
According to the report, bisexual people experience higher rates of depression, at 63% for bi women and 47% for bi men, compared to 41% in lesbians and 42% in gay men. However, LGBT people who live with some form of disability have a significantly higher rate of depression (70%). According to the Scottish Health Survey 2017, just 11% of adults in the general population have experienced symptoms of depression.
Colin Macfarlane, Director of Stonewall Scotland, said:
“Last year, our research found an 89 per cent increase over a five-year period in the proportion of LGBT people who had experienced a hate crime. Sadly, this report highlights the impact that hostility and abuse have on mental health and wellbeing, with many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in Scotland experiencing poor mental health.”
“It’s vital that LGBT people feel able to access quality healthcare when they need it, but this report shows they can expect to face unequal treatment and discrimination when accessing healthcare services. Many LGBT people – particularly those who are trans – continue to be ‘outed’ without their consent, treated with inappropriate curiosity and subjected to unequal treatment by healthcare staff. Consequently, LGBT people can be deterred from accessing NHS services, with many avoiding healthcare treatment for fear of discrimination.”
“Fortunately, we’ve seen strong commitments from NHS Scotland to ensure health services support LGBT people. The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland must continue to act to ensure all staff understand the mental and physical health needs of LGBT people and how to support them. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with NHS Scotland to ensure that our health service enables LGBT people in Scotland to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.”
Despite the worrying findings, there are a number of NHS Boards striving to ensure their staff have the latest information on LGBT health needs. Pink Saltire delivered training to NHS Forth Valley staff in 2018 and Clydebank’s Golden Jubilee National Hospital feature in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index as a Top 100 Employer.
Carole Anderson, LGBT Lead, Golden Jubilee Foundation, commented:
“At Golden Jubilee Foundation, we have been working with Stonewall Scotland for the past ten years to improve the experience of LGBT+ people using our healthcare services.”
“We’re proud to have featured as a Top 100 Employer in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index as a result, for the past four years, and have worked hard to train and support our staff to provide care for our LGBT+ patients which is person-centred.”
“Training and awareness-raising of the issues experienced by LGBT+ people accessing healthcare is vitally important and we continue to work to assist our staff to recognise and challenge homophobic, bi-phobic and trans-phobic attitudes based on our strong values of dignity and respect.”
“We are part of a shared community of learning across NHS Scotland, helping to improve the healthcare experience of LGBT+ patients across Scotland.”
The Stonewall report also identifies a higher proportion of LGBT people drink alcohol regularly compared to the general population (14% drinking almost every day) with older people (24%) drinking more heavily than LGBT young people (9%).
One in ten LGBT people aged 18-24 ha taken drugs at least once a month, compared to just 4% of those over 65.
You can view the full Scottish report here: