The Irish Institute of Mental Health Nursing (IIMHN) today (Tuesday 15th June 2010), launch a Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People: A Good Practice Guide for Mental Health Nurses at the Institute’s inaugural annual symposium at Dublin City University.
Developed in collaboration with GLEN, the Guide supports the professional practice of Mental Health Nurses when working with people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB).
“Mental health professionals have played a leading role in trying to reduce the stigma and prejudice faced by LGB people” said Professor Agnes Higgins, Chairperson of the Irish Institute of Mental Health Nursing. “This guide is the next step in that process.”
“There are specific issues that mental health nurses need to be aware of when providing services to LGB people. With this awareness nurses can help reduce or eliminate the barriers that exist for many LGB people in accessing mental health support services. This guide is intended to support mental health nurses provide services that are accessible for and inclusive of LGB people”, said Professor Higgins
“This is a very welcome development”, said Odhrán Allen, Director of Mental Health Policy at GLEN. “Irish research has repeatedly shown that many LGB people face stigmatisation, harassment and discrimination and that this can have serious mental health consequences. Initiatives like this by the IIMHN are critical in ensuring that health services can respond appropriately to the needs of LGB people, and send a strong signal that LGB people will receive the support necessary to ensure good mental health outcomes”.
Recent research on the lives of LGB people, funded by the National Office for Suicide Prevention, showed that LGB people face specific challenges in relation to questioning and disclosing their identity, homophobic bullying in schools, at work or on the street, fear of coming out and negative reactions from families and friends. The research also showed that many LGB people have had negative experiences when using health and social services and feel that healthcare professional need more understanding of LGB issues.
Specific findings included:
• Most young people know they are LGBT at age 12 and start ‘coming out’ at 17
• The period prior to coming out was particularly stressful because of fears of rejection and isolation
• 27% had self-harmed and 85% did so more than once
• 40% of females and 20% of males hand self-harmed
• 18% had attempted suicide and 85% of these saw their first attempt as related in some way to their LGBT identity
• Over a third of those aged 25 years and under had seriously thought about ending their lives within the past year.
• 80% had been verbally abused because of their LGBT identity
• 40% had been threatened with physical violence
• 25% had been punched, hit, kicked or beaten
The Good Practice Guide for Mental Health Nurses addresses the most common questions and information gaps that mental health nurses may have in relation to providing their services to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and makes a series of suggestions to make their practices more inclusive.
A full copy of the guide can be downloaded from www.glen.ie (www.glen.ie/pdfs/LesbianGayandBisexualPeopleAGoodPracticeGuideforMentalHealthNurses.pdf )