Understanding Barriers and Facilitators of Mental Health and Wellbeing Help-seeking in LGBT+ UK Armed Forces Veterans

Charlotte Larner

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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From 1955 to January 2000 there was a ban on LGBT+ people serving in the Armed Forces, and many were dismissed or forced into retirement (Paige et al., 2021). Although there are known mental health inequalities for LGBT+ adults (Stonewall, 2018) and veterans often wait until they are at crisis point to seek support with their mental health, there is a lack of research in the UK exploring help-seeking in LGBT+ veterans (Randles & Finnegan, 2022). The empirical study aimed to qualitatively explore barriers and facilitators of help-seeking for mental health and wellbeing support in this population. Ethical approval was obtained from Royal Holloway, University of London prior to recruitment. Fourteen participants aged 39-71 years old, who identify as LGBT+ were recruited from across the UK via social media and through third-sector organisations. An online Qualtrics questionnaire was used to screen participants based on the inclusion criteria and to collect demographic information. Individual semi-structured interviews were completed from September 2021 to January 2022. Results from reflexive thematic analysis show 19 subthemes and five overarching themes: ‘understanding LGBT+ veterans unique experiences’, ‘help-seeking and openness is threatening’, ‘recognising the need to ask for help’, ‘support systems’ and ‘compassionate curiosity not assumptions’. The findings suggest the potential impact of discrimination in the Armed Forces upon mental health and help-seeking and the importance of adopting and intersectional approach. The findings reflect the need for LGBT+ trauma informed services which pay close attention to safety, trust, collaboration, empowerment and choice, as well as curiosity and compassion about each individual’s unique experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Fowke, Alex, Supervisor
  • Ferrier, Sue, Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Nov 2022
Publication statusIn preparation - 2022

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