Our LGBT network on cultivating good mental health

Our LGBT Network share their thoughts on the obstacles to good mental health and wellbeing often faced by the LGBT community, and what we can all do to support each other.

"Being LGBT does not mean you have mental health problems, however lack of family support, homophobia, harassment at work and feeling ignored by healthcare providers are still common occurrences for the LGBT community.

"Most lesbian, gay and bisexual people have experienced difficulties in their lives. One of the important elements to maintaining good mental health is social support. Our staff LGBT network provides this with fortnightly meetings, alternating between evenings and lunchtimes. It’s important to offer a social setting that doesn’t necessarily involve alcohol, in a safe environment and which can offer a sense of anonymity if needed.

"When it comes to healthcare provision, the specific needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can often be overlooked. We are fortunate to have Stonewall working with the NHS to ensure they provide an equal service to everyone. The network offers a safe space to share experiences, sometimes just checking something out, having a vent and asking for advice can really help, for example 'They said this to me – can you believe it!'

"To support your LGBT colleagues and students have a look at the HUR- eLearning Resources in MOLE where there's a module designed to help you understand your colleagues' experiences.

"Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is welcome to become an LGBT allie by signing up to the Open@TUoS mailing list.

"You'll also get a rainbow lanyard when you sign up. This visible expression of inclusion sends a strong message to members of our University community and our students, that the University is safe and welcoming. Many identify as LGBT or are questioning, or will have experienced homophobia in schools which is obviously very damaging to mental health.

Figures from Stonewall:

  • LGBT people are 50 per cent more likely than straight people to experience long-term mental health problems
  • Nearly one in four (23 per cent) lesbian, gay and bisexual young people have tried to take their own life at some point
  • 88 per cent of trans people have experienced depression compared to 1 in 4 of the wider population
  • More than 60 per cent of trans people have attempted suicide

"Shocking and quite upsetting statistics, but it puts into perspective the importance of having open and honest dialogue about our mental health at work, without fear or stigma."

Dr Matt Mears, Chair of the LGBT Staff Network
Rachel Collier-Wilson, Joint Vice Chair of the LGBT Staff Network
James Gregory, Joint Vice Chair of the LGBT Staff Network