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Risk & Resilience in LGBT+ People in England – New Report by PACE


Pace Report Image

Yesterday at the King’s Fund in London a new report based upon a 5 years study of LGBT+ mental health was launched by PACE. Working collaboratively with the University of Worcester (Elizabeth Peel),  London South Bank (Allan Tyler) and Brunel University London (Ian Rivers), this report offers both qualitative and quantitative insights into the well-being of LGBT+ people living in England. It not only addresses current issues and challenges some previous findings relating to LGBT+ mental health, it also focuses on legacy and the after effects of years of discrimination. Despite recent advances and the possibilities they have brought for many LGBT+ people, this study highlights there are still some of who live with memories of past discrimination and require our support, and some who still face discrimination today. A link to the full report (104 pages; 3MB) can be found here.

Please circulate widely.

Executive Summary

The RaRE Study research project 2010 – 2015 is a 5-year collaboration between PACE, the LGBT+ mental health charity and an academic panel drawn from three UK universities. The study looked at risk and resilience factors for three mental health issues that affect LGBT+ people disproportionally:

  1. Suicide attempts and self-harm for young LGBT+ people under 26
  2. Alcohol misuse in lesbian and bisexual women
  3. Body image issues for gay and bisexual men

Data was collected between 2011 and 2014, through two sets of interviews with 58 people in total and a national survey of 2078 people in England.

Suicide and Self-harm for Young LGB&T People – Key findings

Young LGB and Trans*1 people under 26 are more likely to attempt suicide and to self-harm than their heterosexual and cisgender2 peers.

What Risk Factors did RaRE find?

People who attempted suicide while young reported factors that appear to correlate closely with suicidal thoughts or attempts. These were: negative experiences of coming out; homophobic and transphobic bullying; and struggles about being LGB or Trans* within the family, at school and in peer groups.

In addition, participants reported that a lack of awareness and training means responses from medical or professional staff can feel inadequate. Inclusive resources, which reflect the lives and issues of young LGB&T people, are sparse outside of LGBT+ specialist services.

What Resilience Factors did RaRE find?

Participants reported that support and understanding from family and significant others helped them to develop self-worth. In addition, connection to other LGB&T people and communities create a sense of belonging, which helps build resilience.

Positive interventions and responses from medical and professional staff are crucial, to help young LGB&T people recover more quickly after a suicide attempt.

Alcohol misuse for lesbian and bisexual women – Key findings

No significant differences in dependent alcohol use or hazardous drinking were found when comparing lesbian and bisexual women with heterosexual women. Some minor differences in patterns of drinking were found.

What Risk Factors did RaRE find?

The study found that the risk of problematic drinking amongst lesbian and bisexual women is often associated with prevailing heterosexism. It appears lesbian and bisexual women use alcohol in an attempt to manage feelings of fear, anxiety and guilt about their sexual orientation. Negative reactions from professionals can limit lesbian and bisexual women’s engagement with treatment and support, including causing them to disengage with treatment altogether.

What Resilience Factors did RaRE find?

The study found that recovery from alcohol abuse is helped by good support from partners, family and others. It appears that an important strategy to regain control is creating life structures. Interaction with practitioners who are knowledgeable, aware and inclusive in their approach is key, as are LGBT-specific resources such as support groups.

Body image issues for gay and bisexual men –Key findings

The study found that gay and bisexual men are more dissatisfied with their bodies and their health than heterosexual men.

What Risk Factors did RaRE find?

RaRE found that early experiences of ‘feeling different’ appear to create vulnerability and are a key factor in developing low self-worth for gay and bisexual men. Gay and bisexual men experience significant pressure to conform to the ‘ideal’ body type; they are also more sensitive towards social and media messages about this ideal when compared with heterosexual men. These messages are internalised from peers at school, family, media and other men on the scene.

Please note for following errata:

p. 49 – Figure 3 all comparisons are significant (i.e. all should have an asterisk*)

p. 65 – 1st paragraph (line 13) and 2nd paragraph (line 6) – should read “dissatisfied”


Nodin, N., Peel, E., Tyler, A., & Rivers, I. (2015). The RaRE research report: LGB&T mental health – risk and resilience explored. London: PACE. ISBN 978-0-0032385-0-5.

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