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Putting the spotlight on the healthcare experiences of the LGBT+ community

To mark LGBT+ History Month, the BPS is holding a roundtable event to explore the unique challenges in accessing healthcare faced by members of the LGBT+ community.

27 February 2024

By BPS Communications

The event, being held tomorrow (28 February), is free to attend and in line with the aims of the awareness month will seek to ‘shine a light on the history of the LGBT+ community’s experience of receiving healthcare’, as well as current barriers, and the repercussions of societal stigma and discrimination.

The roundtable, which aspires to equip psychologists with actionable insights and recommendations to implement systemic change, will also seek to examine the varied experiences of the different LGBT+ communities and how we can encourage use of services for younger people.

Dr Adam Jowett, chair of the BPS EDI Board, is chairing the hour-long session and the panellists are: Penny Catterick, a member of the BPS Human Rights Advisory Group, Dr Heather Armstrong, of the University of Southampton, Dr Katherine Hubbard, of the University of Surrey, and Dr Rob Agnew, chair of the BPS Section of Gender, Sexuality and Relationship Diversity.

Psychological research* consistently shows that LGBT+ people are more likely to experience common mental health difficulties (e.g. depression and anxiety) than the general population.

Dr Adam Jowett said these disparities reflect the “continued challenges that the LGBT+ community face including minority stress and barriers to accessing some healthcare services”.

“It is important for us as psychologists to tackle prejudice, create safe spaces for LGBT+ people and ensure that healthcare providers are equipped to support the needs of LGBT+ people,” he added.

Commenting on the healthcare experiences of transgender people, Penny Catterick said:

“The UK clinical pathway for transgender healthcare is extended and disengaged from best global psychological practice available through agencies like the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), and more recently the evolving European PATH agency. Recognition and promotion of WPATH practices by BPS practitioners could likely benefit psychological treatments in the UK.

“As a qualitative researcher, I believe that gaining deeper understanding of the lived experience of LGBT+ people on their healthcare journey could bring significant benefit to the effectiveness of healthcare pathways.

“It would be wonderful to see the BPS engaging with academic institutions to promote longitudinal studies that inform practitioners of the psychological challenges encountered by vulnerable people building a new reality.

"The First Minister of Scotland called transgender people, ‘the most stigmatised in society,’ (2014). The human rights and dignity of LGBT+ people should be afforded no less consideration than any other individual receiving healthcare. Perhaps the LGBT+ History Month roundtable event will help bring greater awareness to that need.

Talking about the needs of younger people, Dr Rob Agnew said:

“Year on year increasing numbers of young people are identifying as queer in some way (UK Census, 2022). These young people need services to meet their needs in an accessible way that respects their identity and individuality.

“It would be great to see a statement of commitment in the health service to providing specific approaches which celebrate and validate the identities of LGBT+ people, as well as acknowledging the stigma and obstacles they face.”

Dr Agnew added: “It’s great to see the BPS providing a platform for LGBT+ people in psychology. We need more opportunities to set the agenda and to direct the conversation ourselves. It gives the LGBT+ voices in psychology a chance to be visible to our members, and to share the process of what we think and do as psychologists and part of the BPS to support the communities.

“I hope that people leave the discussion feeling motivated to get more involved, and I look forward to hearing from members who want to join our section and/or become active committee members.”

The roundtable will be held online via Zoom and registration is required (members only).

More details of how to register.

If you have any queries, please email: [email protected]

*Pitman et al., 2022; Hajek et al, 2023










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