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Mental Health

Being LGBTI+ does not cause poor mental health, but the impacts of the stigma, discrimination, and prejudice impact on our wellbeing. There are currently higher rates of anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug use, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide amongst the LGBTI+ population. We know that these relate to social factors including biphobia, lesbophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and interphobia, and the lack of ability to speak openly about gender, sexual orientation, or bodily diversity.

LGBTI+ people seeking mental health support face additional barriers in coming forward. Some mental health professionals lack knowledge or understanding, or make assumptions about someone’s gender or sexual orientation. Poor experiences within mainstream mental health or other services can lead to distrust of these services. This means that LGBTI+ people may wait until crisis point to reach out, or they may rely on more informal and social networks of support to keep them afloat.

The Equality Network is working, and has worked for a long time, to reduce these mental health inequalities in Scotland for LGBTI+ people. We are currently helping to ensure that the Scottish Government’s new Mental Health Strategy works for LGBTI+ people. In 2022, we collectively submitted a LGBT+ sector-wide consultation response on this strategy. We have continued to build on this work in 2023, as part of a strong Equalities and Human Rights Forum, that brings representatives from across marginalised protected groups together to shape this work. The strategy runs from 2017 to 2027, and we will continue to work to ensure that LGBTI+ people are considered at each stage of development.

We have also been working on the new Suicide Prevention Strategy and Self-Harm Strategy, bringing the voices of lived experience to the table. We are helping with the development of a new programme of work called ‘Time, Space, Compassion’ too, which seeks to improve the experience of services for those in acute crisis.

Our previous work includes producing ‘Supporting People’, a publication for LGBTI+ groups across Scotland, delivering presentations on mental health to a variety of groups, organisations and public bodies, pushing for better, more equal healthcare for LGBTI+ people, and the first large-scale research into rural inequality for LGBTI+ people in Scotland, ‘Further Out’. We contributed to the Scottish Mental Health Law Review, supporting work to improve the rights and protections of people who may be subject to mental health, incapacity or adult support and protection legislation, because of poor mental health.

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