Report reveals almost half of LGBT+ Scots have experienced depression in the last year

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Credit: Anna Vercambre

Sam Doak
Deputy News Editor

Stonewall Scotland report show disproportionately high rate of depression amongst respondents

A recently published Stonewall Scotland report has highlighted both the prevalence of mental health issues within the LGBT+ community and the difficulties many face in accessing healthcare services. One of the most pressing areas of concern identified in Stonewall’s report is an apparently high rate of depression within the LGBT+ community compared to that among the general public.

In 2017, a YouGov study found that 11 per cent of respondents drawn from the general public reported having suffered from depression over the course of the previous year. In comparison, 49% of LGBT+ respondents to YouGov’s study claim to have suffered from depression in the last year. This issue appears to disproportionally affect trans members of the community, as 72% of trans respondents claimed to have experienced depression over the course of the last year. As many as 52% of trans respondents reported having considered taking their own life in at least one instance over this timeframe.

Colin Macfarlane, Stonewall Scotland’s director, commented on the findings of the report, attributing them in part to homophobic attitudes and abuse directed towards members of the LGBT+ community. Macfarlane stated: “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 this year.”

Stonewall’s report has also highlighted the difficulties faced by many members of the LGBT+ community when accessing healthcare. Citing a lack of knowledge among healthcare professionals on healthcare needs specific to the LGBT+ community, Stonewall’s report reveals that 27% of LGBT+ respondents and 59% of trans respondents claimed to have experienced difficulties when seeking access to healthcare as a result of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It appears these difficulties have deterred members of the LGBT+ community from making use of healthcare services. As many as 37% of trans respondents to YouGov’s study reported having previously avoided the use of healthcare services due to fear of discrimination.

Speaking on the difficulties members of the LGBT community reported having faced in relation to Healthcare, Macfarlane stated: “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.”

When asked for comment on Stonewall’s findings, Scotland’s Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey, seemed to acknowledge that work was needed in order to address the needs of the LGBT+ community. When asked on her position regarding the report, Haughey stated: “These findings are concerning, which is precisely why we are working with LGBT equality organisations, including Stonewall Scotland, to eradicate discrimination and stigma, investing more than £1 million to support the work of LGBT equality organisations across Scotland in 2018/19.

“Our national partnership between Stonewall Scotland and NHS Scotland is supporting health boards to ensure that the workforce has the skills and knowledge needed to meet the specific healthcare needs of LGBT service users. We are continually looking for ways to build on that partnership and I will be meeting with LGBT organisations soon to discuss how we better address the needs of LGBT service users through the Mental Health Strategy.”