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Anna Freud Centre supporting LGBTQI+ youth mental health

30th June 2022  |  By: Michelle Cunliffe


Following on from Pride month in June, the Anna Freud Centre will march in the 2022 Pride in London Parade on Saturday 2 July. This will be to celebrate the diversity of our staff, and to show our support for LGBTQI+ youth mental health.

This year, after a two-year pause because of the pandemic, Pride in London commemorates 50 years since the first Pride took place in the UK. The event, which was first held in 1972 with approximately 2,000 participants, has grown significantly. In 2019, over 30,000 people joined the Pride march and 1.5 million people attended the event. The Anna Freud Centre also marched in the Pride in London Parade in 2019.

Young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or gender non-conforming are approximately two-and-a-half times more likely to have a mental health problem than young people who identify as heterosexual.[1] Research consistently shows that LGBTQI+ young people report higher rates of suicidal ideation, suicidal behaviour, mood and anxiety disorder symptoms, as well as emotional distress when compared to heterosexual young people.[2]

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, says: “There is no question that the way we, as a society, respond to the sexuality or gender identity of others is often detrimental to their mental health. It is profoundly wrong that people we know and love fear rejection from their friends and families – and feel vulnerable to abuse and fear violence – simply because of their sexual or gender identity.

“Being accepted is a human need. It is not a privilege to have that need met, but a basic right, one from which all other opportunities flow. Never, in recent times, has the active assertion of the human rights of all had greater importance. Pride speaks for our individual rights in Europe and the rest of the world. When each one of us can assert our sexual and gender identity, and when we have the respect we need to feel proud of who we are, we will have a happier and more equitable society.”

Being LGBTQI+ does not mean that a young person will have a mental health problem. However, identifying as part of the LGBTQI+ community can lead to unique challenges in growing up and as an adult – including fears about coming out, worries about being accepted by friends and family, and the impact of prejudice and discrimination. The Anna Freud Centre has created a resource which explores important topics in relation to being a member of the LGBTQI+ community, and provides support for mental health problems should they arise.

This free resource was created by Anna Freud Centre staff following a survey and workshops with LGBTQI+ young people, including the Centre’s Young Champions. The Centre’s LGBTQI+, Anti-Racism and Accessibility Working Groups also reviewed the resource. Topics include: coming out, intersectionality, common challenges for LGBTQI+ young people, and LGBTQI+ specific help and support.

To view and download the LGBTQI+ mental health resource, visit www.annafreud.org/lgbtqi.

[1] NHS Digital (2018). Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017: Summary of Key Findings. Government Statistical Service.
[2] (Eskin et al., 2005; Fergusson et al., 2005; Fleming et al., 2007; Marshal et al., 2011; Russell & Fish, 2016).

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