Time to Talk Day: Health secretary pledges ‘focus’ on LGBT mental health

health secretary Matt Hancock, who pledged to ensure there is a "specific focus" on LGBT+ mental health as the UK marks Time to Talk Day

As the UK marks Time to Talk Day, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told PinkNews that he will ensure that there is a “specific focus” on LGBT+ mental health as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which was unveiled in January.

Speaking to PinkNews, Hancock pledged to meet the needs of the LGBT+ community when it comes to treatment for mental health issues on the NHS.

“Where there are specific needs within the LGBT community then that must be a focus,” said the health secretary.

“And, as part of the implementation plan for the Long Term Plan for the NHS, which we’re working on now, and we’ll be publishing in the coming months, we’ll make sure that there’s a specific focus on the mental health needs of the LGBT community.”

Health secretary says “overall access to mental health services must improve” as UK marks Time to Talk Day

The 10-year NHS Long Term Plan, launched in January, states that it will provide at least £2.3 billion of extra funding annually for mental health care by 2023 or 2024.

Hancock added that available treatment for mental health problems on the NHS needs to get better.

“The overall access to mental health services must improve,” said Hancock.

“The biggest increase in funding as a proportion of the overall budget is for mental health services.

“Of the £20 billion increase in funding over the next five years more than £2 billion of that will go to improve mental health services, and that needs to be delivered on a basis of access for all.”

“We’ll make sure that there’s a specific focus on the mental health needs of the LGBT community.”

—Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care

Research has shown that LGBT+ people in the UK are disproportionately affected by mental health issues.

In November 2018, a Stonewall report found that more than half of LGBT+ people (52 percent) have experienced depression in the past year, and that three in five (61 percent) had suffered from anxiety.

This compares to one in people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year, according to mental health charity Mind.

Matt Hancock, who has pledged to ensure there is a "specific focus" on LGBT mental health as the UK marks Time to Talk Day

Health Secretary Matt Hancock. (UK Parliament)

Time to Talk Day is a UK wide initiative on Thursday, February 7, partially funded by the Department of Health & Social Care, that encourages people to have a conversation about mental health.

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out how £20.5 billion of funding will be spent over the next five years, including pledges to reduce stillbirths by 50 percent and save 55,000 more lives a year by diagnosing cancer in the early stages.

Health secretary pledges to meet “specific needs” of LGBT+ community with mental health services on NHS

Throughout the 136-page NHS Long Term Plan document, there are only three mentions of the LGBT+ acronym—one of which is in the glossary.

The LGBT+ community is specifically mentioned in the publication’s proposals to fund new mental health support teams in schools and colleges.

“Teams will receive information and training to help them support young people more likely to face mental health issues—such as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT+) individuals or children in care, and as they are rolled out, we will test approaches to support children and young people outside of education settings,” reads the document.

The NHS Long Term Plan also singles out LGBT+ individuals as part of its proposals to support current employees and in relation to a staff survey, noting “concerns about the experiences of LGBT+ staff” where highlighted during the research.

“Respect, equality and diversity will be central to changing the culture and will be at the heart of the workforce implementation plan,” reads the document.