LGBT+ Mental Health Campaign
Posted 1 February 2021President of Inclusivity and Diversity, Evie, talks about the LGBT+ Mental Health Forum and survey.
President of Inclusivity and Diversity, Evie, talks about the LGBT+ Mental Health Forum and survey.
LGBT+ Mental Health Campaign
What did you come out as first, having mental health problems or being LGBT+?
This joke has always stuck with me as someone who has struggled with coming to terms with their sexuality, and also with mental health issues.
But why do LGBT+ students experience higher rates of mental health problems, and what can we do about it?
LGBT+ is a term that encompasses anyone who identifies as having a sexual orientation/sexuality different from straight, or gender identity different from cisgender. This includes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. The + encompasses other identities such as Intersex, Asexual and Queer among others.
For a full glossary of LGBT+ terms visit here.
Why LGBT+ Mental Health?
Research has consistently shown that LGBT+ people experience worse mental health and access to care than their peers.
- Student minds’ survey of LGBT+ students showed that;
- 93% of LGBT+ students agreed that ‘Young LGBT+ people have higher rates of poor mental health, self-harm and suicide than their non-LGBT+ counterparts.’
- 28% had accessed - or tried to access - mental health services in the 12 months before the survey and 22% of those respondents had a negative experience.
- LGBT+ people have lower life satisfaction than the general UK population, particularly trans people.
- LGBT+ students have higher rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), eating disorders and other mental health conditions.
Why is this?
Discrimination and Stigma
Stonewall, found that many LGBT+ students, particularly trans students, faced negative comments or conduct from university staff because of their identity (Gooch & Bachmann, 2018).
Students who have experienced a form of homophobic/ biphobic/ transphobic harassment are 2-3 time more likely to consider leaving their course and over a half of trans respondents seriously considered dropping out of their course.
Over a quarter of LGBT+ students reported feeling that they were excluded by other students because of their identity and almost a fifth of students felt unable to use the toilets on campus.
Coming Out/Staying in the closet
Two in five LGBT+ students concealed their identity at university because they were afraid of discrimination.
Around a third of LGBT+ students report not feeling confident reporting any homophobic/ biphobic/ transphobic bullying to university staff.
Some LGBT+ students may choose to be ‘out’ to some people, and not to others, which can be an incredibly stressful experience.
In our hetero-normative society, when we are socially conditioned into believing that being ‘straight’ or ‘cisgender’ is the “norm”, it can be hard not to take on these ideas, even if we identify as LGBT+. Many LGBT+ people experience shame towards themselves for their identity, even if they have in many ways accepted their identity.
For example, some LGBT+ people might self-harm or engage in self-destructive behaviours because society has made them ashamed of their identity.
As a bisexual, I struggle with internalised biphobia, as I sometimes feel not ‘gay’ enough to be in the LGBT+ community, and not straight enough to be considered straight, even though I know that bisexuals are just as valid as everyone else.
For more information about internalised homophobia click here.
To add to all of these factors, LGBT+ students may feel like many people cannot understand their experiences. They may have had experiences of non-LGBT+ friends or mental health professionals not appreciating their lived experience, and how coming out, or discrimination towards their identity is a unique issue that they face.
Researchers have suggested a combination of these factors such stigma, prejudice, and discrimination create a hostile and stressful social environment that causes mental health problems. This can come from an experience of prejudice events, expectations of rejection, hiding and concealing and internalised homophobia.
(Meyer’s 2003 minority stress theory)
What initiatives can be put in place?
Student Minds have several recommendations:
- Student support hiring staff who identify as LGBT+ or have an understanding of LGBT+ issues
- While additional support may be beneficial, greater social acceptance of LGBT+ identity may go some way to reducing the need for additional support. While the LGBT+ community can, and do, support each other, the wider community is not currently as inclusive as it could be. This needs to change.
- Universities and Students’ Unions can continue to raise awareness, challenge heteronormative cultures and encourage the wider community to be an ally for the LGBT+ community.
- Improving sports’ inclusivity, providing and protecting LGBT+ social spaces and having more
- Visible LGBT+ role models across Students’ Union groups may help address these barriers.
- Peer support programmes where LGBT+ people can support each other with advice and information.
What is Hull University Students’ Union doing?
I have started an LGBT+ students’ mental health campaign to try and find out more about the experiences of LGBT+ students’ and how the support services could more effectively meet your needs.
We have started a survey to ask you how you think your experience of and discrimination towards your sexual orientation/gender identity has impacted your mental health, and what improvements you would like to see. Click here to access the survey. (It takes five minutes to complete!)
We will be holding an open forum for LGBT+ students to give you the opportunity to talk more in detail about your experiences, and what you would like to see change in the wellbeing team, and on campus to benefit your mental health. Click here for the open forum.
You can get in touch with me at [email protected]
If you have been affected by any of the topics discussed, these links below can support you;
Trans and non-binary
Tel: 0300 330 5468 (Open Monday & Friday 8pm-midnight)
Mindline Trans+ is a confidential, non-judgemental listening service for people who identify as Trans+, non-binary and their friends and families. Open Monday & Friday 8pm-midnight
Tel: 0808 801 0400
Mermaids are a charity that provide information, guidance and education for transgender and gender diverse young people up to the age of twenty.
text MERMAIDS to
for free 24/7 crisis support all across the UK.
All texts are answered by trained volunteers with support from experienced clinical supervisors.
Let's Talk Hull
Let's Talk Hull are a service that can help support you with depression, low mood, worry, anxiety & panic. They employ a team of trained and qualified staff, who in discussion with you, can identify which support will work best for you and your needs.
The support offered by Let's Talk is varied and includes counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Stress Control workshops. Contact them here or call 01482 247111 to arrange an appointment on campus.
Samaritans are a confidential charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide. Contact them here or email if you're in need of support.