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Service provider perspectives on tools to improve access to mental health supports for sexual and gender diverse populations: A qualitative research study

Simon Fraser University

Travis Salway, Angel Kennedy, Sarah Watt, Rowdy Reeves, Stéphanie Black, Natasha Vitkin, James Young

Topic areas

Provider perspectives2S/LGBTQ+Virtual careCOVID-19Service user perspectives

Study Design:

This is a qualitative study out of British Columbia, with a first round of interviews conducted between May and September 2020, and a second round of interviews between October to December 2020.

Study Sample:

The study sampled 15 mental and sexual health providers and administrators in BC providing services to LGBTQ+ individuals; and 27 sexual health service users who were 16 years or older, had accessed sexual health services (for example, a sexual health clinic) in British Columbia within the past 12 months, and had experienced anxiety (for example, nervousness, panic, inability to stop worrying) for a period of two weeks or more within in the past 12 months.

Research Questions:

From the provider interviews, this study aimed to learn more about how service providers currently address mental health concerns among clients, including providers’ awareness and use of existing mental health supports; and explore the practical needs of service providers when responding to mental health needs among clients and to gather feedback on three tools that have been developed to support providers in this. From the service user interviews, this study aimed to learn more about sexual health clinic clients’ unmet mental health and substance use (MHSU) needs and their experiences accessing MHSU supports and services.

Preliminary Findings:

Experiences of stigma, shame, and anxiety were heightened during the pandemic. Isolation and lack of access to identity affirming services and interactions negatively impacted mental health. Various inequities exist in accessing remote mental health services during the pandemic, including privacy/safety concerns, technological challenges, and negative perceptions of these services. There was also a lack of clarity of operating mental health services during the pandemic. Opportunities for mental healthcare in the context of remote services exist during the pandemic as well, including providing access to those otherwise unable to access physical services, decreased likelihood of experiencing social stigma, and more convenience for accessing remote services.

Existing and Forthcoming Publications and Outputs:

A manuscript informed by this study is in preparation. Preliminary findings from this study were shared as a panel presentation and poster presentation at the 2020 CBRC Summit Conference.

Contact Information for Updates:

Sarah Watt (Research Coordinator): sarah.watt@bccdc.ca

Travis Salway: travis_salway@sfu.ca

Find more information on the study homepage

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Related publications

  • Kennedy A. The changing landscape of LGBTQ2-centered mental health and substance use service delivery in the context of COVID-19: A qualitative study of healthcare providers. CBRC Summit 2020.

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