Considerations when providing mental health first aid to an LGBTIQ person

Considerations when providing mental health first aid to an LGBTIQ person

Recently guidelines were released about considerations when providing mental health first aid to an LGBTIQ person. The guidelines were based on a study conducted by Bond et al. (2017) using what is known as a Delphi method. The Delphi method assembles a [panel of experts who then look over current research and then based on their findings put forward what they believe to be best practice or in other cases predictions. The results get disseminated to all experts who then review their findings and predictions based on others. The method seeks to gain a homogenous consensus from the experts.   

Below are the terms used throughout the study and guidelines.

LGBTIQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer or questioning. Although not traditionally included, in this study LGBTIQ also includes people who are asexual

LGBTIQ experience refers to the way a person experiences sexual or romantic attraction (including asexuality and polysexuality), gender identity or intersex variation

Gender identity describes someone’s understanding of who they are about their gender-related identity (e.g. woman, genderqueer, man, no gender, etc.), as distinct from their physical characteristics. This includes the way people express or present their gender and recognise that a person may not identify as a woman or a man

Sexuality describes a person’s emotional, romantic or sexual attractions towards others, often explaining the gender of people with whom someone builds sexual or romantic relationships. Some people experience sexuality as fluid and changing across the lifespan rather than as an ‘orientation.’

Intersex variation is an umbrella term for people with physical characteristics that are different from what is typically thought of as ‘female’ and ‘male’ bodies. These physical characteristics are present at birth and may become more noticeable during physical development. Intersex variation is distinct from sexuality and gender identity. Therefore, intersex people may identify as male, female or another gender, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, etc.

Cisgender refers to the gender experiences of people whose gender identity is typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth

I encourage everyone to read through the guidelines which provide helpful tips around language, supporting LGBTIQ people, understanding the LGBTIQ experience, discrimination, disclosing and coming out. You can find the guidelines at the National LGBTIQ alliance (https://mhfa.com.au/sites/default/files/considerations-when-providing-MHFA-to-an-LGBTIQ-person.pdf).

I found the disclosing and coming out guidelines of great interest. Coming out refers to the situation where an LGBTIQ+ person tells others with whom they have an ongoing relationship about their sexuality, gender identity or intersex variation for the first time. Disclosure refers to the situation where an LGBTIQ+ person who is open about their sexuality, gender identity or intersex variation tells a new person for the first time.

So please read through the guidelines so we can all promote a welcoming and safe approach to providing mental health services to LGBTIQ people.   

 

Reference

Bond, K. S., Jorm, A. F., Kelly, C. M., Kitchener, B. A., Morris, S. L., & Mason, R. J. (2017). Considerations when providing mental health first aid to an LGBTIQ person: A Delphi study. Advances in Mental Health, 15(2), 183-197. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18387357.2017.1279017