Gays say clinicians lack understanding

Gay men and lesbians are more likely to have consulted a mental
health professional, according to a new study.

The research shows that, despite similar levels of social support
and quality of physical health, gay men and lesbians report more
psychological distress than heterosexuals.

And when they were open about their sexuality, more than 40 per
cent of lesbians and one-third of gay men said they had received
negative or mixed reactions from mental health professionals.

Some had experienced overt homophobia and discrimination while
others felt their clinician lacked empathy on sexuality

One-fifth of gay men and lesbians and one-third of bisexual men
reported that mental health professionals made a causal link
between their sexuality and their problem.

Professionals can find it difficult to strike a balance, says the
report, appearing insensitive if they play down or over-emphasise

Some found mental health practitioners unwilling to focus on
sexuality issues while others who did discuss their sexuality felt
responses were clumsy and ill-informed.

Some gay men and lesbians felt there were advantages to being able
to choose a lesbian, gay or bisexual clinician.

The report, published by Mind, recommends that awareness of mental
health needs of gay men and lesbians should become a standard part
of training for mental health professionals.

– Mental Health and Social Well-being of Gay Men, Lesbians and
Bisexuals in England and Wales
from Mind, 020 8221 9666.

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