Lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people are statistically more likely to experience mental health problems such as depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and alcohol and substance misuse. This can be attributed to a range of factors, including discrimination, hate crimes, inequalities, isolation, homophobia, transphobia and other adverse experiences.
The heterosexual/cis-normative biases in both mental and physical health services can lead to the LGBTQ+ community feeling unsupported and discriminated against. For example, assumptions about the gender of a partner, or their options for becoming a parent can lead to members of the LGBTQ+ community needing to repeatedly disclose and explain their identity to professionals. The person may fear being judged or misunderstood by the professional involved in their care.
Additionally, professionals may not have had training in LGBTQ+ issues or may lack the confidence to have these conversations. This can lead to medical advice being omitted or assumptions leading to safeguarding issues being missed, for example, in cases of domestic violence.
LGBTQ+ families are at higher risk of experiencing perinatal mental illness. It is essential that healthcare professionals are better equipped to recognise, assess, refer or offer appropriate treatment to address the needs of the LGBTQ+ families. It is important that professionals remain compassionate and empathetic throughout.
NHS Confederation has developed the following resource on supporting the LGBTQ+ population through COVID-19 and beyond:
Supporting the LGBTQ+ population through COVID-19 and beyond leaflet
Lucy Warwick-Guasp is a consultant and trainer, passionate about improving perinatal mental health for LGBTQ+ parent families.
Lucy delivers training sessions for practitioners working with families experiencing pre and postnatal mental illness. The training allows participants to explore specific experiences of LGBTQ+ people and how to ensure that services are inclusive of LGBTQ+ parent families.
Find out more about the sessions in the LGBTQ+ training leaflet
Below is a resource list of support organisations for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
National Childbirth Trust (NCT) website has information and support for LGBTQ+ parents including:
Pink Parents – Offers support for same sex couples who are parents
Stonewall parenting rights – Information for parents on parenting rights including parental responsibility, adopting, fostering, co-parenting, fertility treatment and surrogacy
The LGBT Mummies Tribe – Provide resources, support groups and services for LGBTQ+ mums and parents
New Family Social – Support for LGBTQ+ families with adoption and fostering
Mind – Information about mental health support for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer or questioning (LGBTIQ+)
Galop – LGBTQ+ anti violence charity supporting all LGBTQ+ people who’ve experienced hate crime, domestic abuse or sexual violence
NHS – Having a baby of you’re LGBT+ Find out about starting a family if you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or non-binary.
VODA – Voda is an app designed by NHS psychotherapists and provides self-guided digital therapy programmes derived from mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Mental Health Foundation (2021) Mental health statistics: LGBTIQ+ people.