LGBTQ people are more exposed to mental illness and more often have suicidal thoughts than do heterosexual cis people. RFSL wants the authorities, healthcare and society as a whole to acknowledge this act and take specific measures to improve the situation for LGBTQ people.
There is a lot of research in this area. A register based study from the National Board of Health and Welfare showed that the prevalence of hazardous use or addiction, as well as the prevalence of depression and anxiety related illnesses, is higher among people in same-sex marriages compared to people in opposite sex marriages (Socialstyrelsen, 2016). The Public Health Agency’s report on trans people’s health showed that 40 per cent of young trans people had attempted to take their own life at some point, and that 50 per cent had had suicidal thoughts during the previous year (Folkhälsomyndigheten, 2015). There’s a lot to be done in the area of mental health for LGBTQ people.
A mapping of the regions’ work for mental health
The government’s effort to address mental ill health is aimed at strengthening the municipalities’, county councils’ and the regions’ work with mental health locally. 780 million SEK were allocated for this purpose and the Swedish municipalities and county councils (SKL) have been able to use the funds locally and regionally.
Demands for a plan of action
In order to get the funding, all actors were asked to make a current situation analysis and write a plan of action regarding what measures would be taken locally and regionally. One of the target areas in the agreement between the government and SKL was to focus on vulnerable groups. LGBTQ people are mentioned as an important target group for these efforts.
RFSL has read the plans of action that were sent in during the fall of 2016, and that are to form the basis of the work in 2017, to see if the LGBTQ perspective has been integrated and what measures are planned to support LGBTQ people’s mental health.
11 regions completely lack LGBTQ efforts
It was clear that only 12 out of the 21 regional analyses about mental health locally mentioned LGBTQ. The rest didn’t mention the group at all. 10 out of 21 plans of action mention LGBTQ in their analyses, but only one of the action plans (Stockholm’s) mention many specific efforts that are to be made to improve LGBTQ people’s mental health.
However, we do know that some of the regions that don’t mention LGBTQ actually make efforts to improve LGBTQ people’s health, but this has obviously not been communicated between different divisions. Thus, there’s a lack of a holistic approach when it comes to the efforts that are made regionally and locally.
It’s worrisome that as many as 11 regions completely lack efforts to improve LGBTQ people’s mental health. The agreement is clear in that LGBTQ people are a vulnerable group that needs specific attention.
Education dominates the efforts
The measures that are planned within the framework of the mental health effort are for the most part education for people who work with LGBTQ issues. RFSL feels that this is an important effort to better healthcare and other functions within municipalities, county councils and regions. But it’s problematic when education becomes the only measure in improving LGBTQ people’s mental health.
These efforts are needed
LGBTQ people with poor mental health have specific needs and there is a need for preventative measures to keep LGBTQ people from developing mental ill health. For example, we would like to see that every county council had a plan for how people that seek gender affirming care should be treated, how a referral should be written and what psychological support should be given in the home county council during and after a gender affirming treatment.
We also want there to be counseling support for trans people and the family of trans people in every county council/region, and that every county council/region should have a BUP centre with a special LGBTQ profile that LGBTQ youth can be referred to.
RFSL has written a list of suggestions of measures to improve LGBTQ people’s mental health locally. We hope that those who write the plans of action in the future will consult this list to better be able to include LGBTQ people’s needs.
Link to RFSL’s mapping in its entirety (in Swedish, pdf, opens in new tab)
Link to RFSL’s list of suggestions to municipalities and county councils/regions (in Swedish, pdf, opens in new tab)