The "Aiming for Excellence" Charter

LGBT Health Matters

--- MARCH 2016 ---

1. Mental healthcare for LGBT+ people in the South West

We give our warmest thanks and respect to those counsellors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and other providers of NHS mental healthcare in the South West who are well skilled on LGBT+ issues and are providing an excellent service to those LGB and Trans and Non-Binary people who need to approach them for mental healthcare at some time in their lives.

However, many others are clearly well-intentioned and wish to provide an appropriately-skilled service, but are aware that their training has not yet equipped them with the relevant knowledge and skills.

And there are others again whose personal approach can act as a strong barrier against their providing an appropriate service to LGBT+ people.

Community engagement, through our Mental health Advisory group, comes from a wide range of people of all ages, across the South West. Their voices are telling us that the patchiness of this landscape is a problem. No-one who approaches an NHS mental healthcare provider, and has issues that involve their LGBT+ identity or experiences, can be confident they will receive appropriately skilled help. This is not as it ought to be, and is not in line with the statutory framework for delivering mental healthcare services.

In this campaign we are offering a positive way forward, through the Charter (see below).

2. Voices from the grass roots

Have a look at our video, Mental Health: An LGBT+ Perspective, at (Vimeo, best for mobiles we find) or at (17 minutes. Our deepest thanks to those who worked together to make this important new resource for us, and to the the Big Lottery Fund (Awards for All) who funded the project.)

  • "I was assigned to a counsellor who immediately terminated the session when I told her that I was gay"
  • "If I am around someone who doesn't know I'm a lesbian, and they begin to say things that may be unintentionally offensive, it stops you wanting to come out to them, and just makes things difficult"
  • "Never knowing how people are reading me, forever being misgendered, not having an identity that is generally recognised as valid... this causes a lot of anxiety and worsens my mental health / depression"
  • "People trying to bully me to become something I'm not, i.e. telling me what my gender is then telling me to "shut up" when I keep reminding them..."
  • "One year with you lot at [LGBT community-based mental healthcare provider] has done me more good than 17 years with the NHS".

3. The view from the grass roots: the Survey

Intercom's Big Community Survey (2014) had a good gender-equal demographic sample of adult respondents from across the entire South West, with strong Trans representation, and we learned from these that in the previous two years:

  • 60% of LGBT adults in the South West had had mental health problems
  • 40% had lived with depression (average prevalence in the South West population was 13% in any one year)
  • 73% of those who'd had depression said it was directly linked to their experiences of living as an LGBT person
  • 20% had been living with low self-esteem / self-hatred that was directly linked to having grown up as LGB or Trans in a negative or prejudiced environment
  • 16% had been living with isolation or agoraphobia which was directly linked to their experiences of living as an LGBT person

... and finally ...

  • 63% of those who had used NHS mental healthcare as an openly LGBT person said that the healthcare they had received was inadequately skilled in the LGBT-related issues that affected them. This finding was statistically significant.


4. The Charter: Aiming for Excellence

LGB and Trans and Non-Binary people across the South West, and NHS officers and providers, all need to work together to help ensure that LGBT+ people who need mental healthcare are able to access help which is adequately skilled and informed on LGBT+ issues.

We have drawn up a Charter, "Aiming for Excellence", and we invite NHS bodies, Health and Wellbeing Boards, Directors of Public Health, Healthwatches, and members of the public, to demonstrate their support for this Charter and its aims.

To support the campaign, either privately or publicly (that's up to you), have a look at the Charter and let Intercom know you want to support it. Make it clear whether you are supporting as a private individual, or officially on behalf of an NHS or other body.

We're inviting grassroots LGBT+ people, and NHS professionals at all levels, to sign up to support our Aiming for Excellence charter:

Aiming for Excellence

"We are proud to be aiming for excellence in the provision of appropriately-skilled mental healthcare for LGB and Trans and Non-Binary people."

For the full text of the Aiming for Excellence Charter, see our Charter page.

To support the Charter, e-mail, making it clear whether you are speaking as a private individual or officially. No names will be made public except with prior informed consent.


5. What is Intercom offering?

Intercom is strongly committed to working in positive partnership with the public sector. Thanks to our Comic Relief funding we can provide consultancy and training on these issues for providers, commissioners and strategic planners. Just call us on 01392 201012, or e-mail

And of course members of the public can access our own specialist community-based Help Support and Advocacy service, in confidence, through our Helpline. This service has been established since 1998, and we are deeply grateful to all public-sector and other funders who make it possible for it to continue.

Between us, we can make change happen.

Make your voice heard!

LGBT mental health logo

The Charter, and this grassroots-led partnership campaign, are part of Intercom's Strategic Mental Health project, which is funded by Comic Relief, to whom our deepest thanks.

Comic Relief logo