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New report examines mental health of rural LGBTQ+ Scots

By Silas Pease

Discrimination, isolation, and Covid-19 all said to be factors affecting mental health of LGBTQ+ people living in rural Scotland.

A new report examining the experiences of LGBTQ+ people living in rural areas of Scotland has recently been released. The report, titled “Further Out: The Scottish LGBT Rural Equality Report” and which was published last month by the charity Equality Network, highlighted how LGBTQ+ people living in rural areas tended to have higher levels of mental health issues compared to those living in larger towns and cities, and that this was worsened by social inequalities, discrimination, a lack of access to LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces and services, and the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The findings in the report, compiled from a survey of respondents living in the Scottish countryside from 2017 to 2020, have determined that LGBTQ+ people in rural areas are 81% more likely to have experienced prejudice in some way, and around 66% of the study’s respondents felt that provisions and services were not satisfactory to their needs. This, the report argues, further exacerbates feelings of isolation and stress, which can have a knock-on effect on mental health.

The report also found that discriminatory attitudes and behaviour, as well as religious and conservative attitudes have all been found to be potential factors behind mental health issues for rural-dwelling LGBTQ+ people. Traditional values, a lack of overall diversity, and a general more insular nature of some rural communities were also cited by respondents as specific causes behind less tolerance of LGBTQ+ identities.

On the issue of Covid-19, the report has also determined that the pandemic has worsened existing issues for rural LGBTQ+ people in Scotland. Isolation, closure of facilities and increased negative press around LGBTQ+ identities and issues are a handful of factors cited in the report that are said to be exacerbating already existing mental health issues for these groups. 

Also included in the report are some recommended improvements on how to address and improve these issues at both the national and regional level. This advice includes improving hate crime intervention and awareness, improving health care services to isolated LGBTQ+ individuals, and increased funding for sexual and mental health services.

For those interested in reading the report, it can be found on the Equality Network website here.


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