Austerity measures are harming the LGBT community’s mental health

A report, by NatCen social research on behalf of UNISON, has revealed that financial cuts and reduced access to services are resulting in LGBT mental health care being left by the wayside.

In 2015, funding from the NHS to provide mental health services had fallen by 8.25 per cent over the course of the last parliament.

The report revealed that there are long waiting lists, reduced access or no specific services at all for the LGBT community.

One service provider said: “Trans youth are particularly vulnerable due to the risk of self-harm and suicide, but services to support them are lacking, with CAHMS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) teams often refusing to support young people due to lack of knowledge on trans issues.”

Some have had to deny themselves counselling because they have to be cautious about spending money due to employment instability, difficulty getting mortgages and higher private rents.

One trans woman said: “I had to choose between paying privately to treat my mental health and saving in order to provide a stable housing situation for myself, my partner and future family.”

The report focuses on a lacking of support for children’s services as they are concerned that young people would have nowhere to seek advice and support in relation to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

An advocate supporting LGBT pupils in schools said: “The current lack of funding in children’s services means that pots of funding are often short-term for a year or two years,…this does not allow time to make a lasting impact or ensure cultural change in organisations e.g. schools”.

Quick fixes have been revealed to take precedent to deal with the lack of time available to treat people.

One gay man said: “My GP and mental health services have generally been good. I haven’t noticed a reduction in service, although they are happier to provide antidepressants and short CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) treatment than talking therapies, which I really need more.”

Austerity measures have led to an increase in redundancies of specialised staff, one LGBT youth group was left abandoned when the service provider was made redundant and the local authority gave no replacement.

This left one community without a provision of mentoring, counselling and school support homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

The report said there are fewer LGBT specific services and “reduction in the ability  of local authorities to fund or contribute to these services financially was seen as key to their decline.”