There are just over one million lesbian, gay and bisexual people living in the UK as of 2016, a number that has only been growing over recent years. It’s hard to guess exactly how many live in Telford & Wrekin, because people can often be reluctant to discuss personal aspects of their identity. If we assume it’s in line with the national stats then there are probably thousands in the area. It’s a lot, to say the least.

The problem

Sadly, LGBT+ folks tend to struggle the most with mental health issues day by day, far more compared to everyone else.

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If you know much about the LGBT+ community, you might not be shocked. Even today, people often suffer from homophobic bullying, harassment, exclusion, and violence. Young people sometimes find themselves homeless after their families disown them. Being LGBT+ is tough, but these issues add even more problems on top.

 

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Trans* people will often face issues of their own. They are much more likely to be the target of hate crimes – with a big impact on mental health. On top of that, they will often work with professionals who don’t really understand their situation. This can include police, GPs, and, unfortunately, even some therapists.

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The info above comes from the Leicestershire NHS Partnership. The good news is that they promptly took the feedback on board and changed how their services worked for LGBT people, so they wouldn’t face the same issues again. We’d like to make sure we can do the same.

What we can offer

The Telford Wellbeing Team doesn’t offer gender counselling, but we’re here to support people with common problems like depression and anxiety. We know the how tough discrimination can be on your mental health, and it’s our goal to offer support to everyone in Telford, whoever they are.

The main therapy we offer is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT for short). This looks at the links between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and then gives you tools and skills to change them yourself.

‘Internalised homophobia/transphobia’ – where you can take on negative attitudes towards LGBT+ people, even if you are one yourself – is a very common problem, especially for people with depression. CBT can be really helpful for helping LGBT+ people to tackle some of those thoughts and look at the world in a way that’s more realistic. It’s not just LGBT+ people themselves, either. Friends or family can also struggle with these sudden changes in circumstances.

Our ideal is to make sure that your gender and orientation are taken into account. We want to make sure that’s done in a sensitive way as well. Although your therapy might not be different from anyone else, we know how hard it can be to talk to someone who doesn’t quite understand your identity or situation.

Giving feedback

If you ever deal with a healthcare professional – including anyone from our team – and you think you’ve been treated unfairly, we’d really like you to get in touch with the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). It’s their job to manage your complaint and make sure it’s taken on board for future.

In the same way, if you’ve had a really good experience, please don’t be afraid to share! Hearing stories of good service from an LGBT standpoint can be really helpful for other people who might be feeling the same way.

We take feedback over the course of therapy, but you can also leave a public review on our NHS Choices page at: https://www.nhs.uk/Services/clinics/ReviewsAndRatings/DefaultView.aspx?id=110013.

Looking forwards

On a more positive note, the world is becoming more and more aware of LGBT+ issues. Pride festivals take place all over the UK, growing bigger every year. LGBT+ characters are becoming the stars of TV and films. Even the soaps have started to feature transgender storylines, such as Emmerdale’s Matty Barton. Legal victories for human rights are starting to be won all over the world.

Things are far from perfect, but we’re starting to see improvements. We hope that we can keep making things better, one step at a time, and we’d like to make sure we can support you, whoever you are. If you’re struggling with your mental health, please don’t hesitate to come forward and have a chat with us.

 - Henry Sawdon-Smith, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner