Quadrangle N.L. takes a closer look at 2SLGBTQ+ health care in new research project

A woman hoists a tea cup while standing in a living room
Ainsley Hawthorn, the project’s research manager, says some in the 2SLGBTQ+ avoid health services due to a lack of education among some health staff. (Submitted by Ainsley Hawthorn)

More than half of 2SLGBTQ+ and gender-diverse people in Newfoundland and Labrador say their mental health is poor or very poor and over 73 per cent say they needed mental health-care services but never got them.

That’s according to a research project by Quadrangle N.L., funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada.

The report considers all health-care services in Newfoundland and Labrador. The results are anything but optimistic.

“Even though we can see that there’s a need for therapy and mental health treatment, people aren’t easily able to get it,” Ainsley Hawthorn, the project’s research manager, told CBC News on Monday. 

The survey had 272 respondents from people in all regions of the province. About half indicated they are gender-diverse, which is around 10 per cent of the gender diverse-population of the province, Hawthorn said.

Charlie Murphy, executive director of Quadrangle N.L., says the results of the survey indicate the need for more mental health services, across the province, free of charge, for the community.

The project also included interviews with health-care providers and health-care students.

Hawthorn said many indicated they haven’t had a solid education on serving the 2SLGBTQ+ community or the community’s particular needs.

Listen to the full interview with CBC Radio’s Newfoundland Morning: 

CBC Newfoundland Morning7:05The state of health care for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in NL is anything but healthy. That’s according to a first-of-its-kind study by a group called by Quadrangle NL

More than half of 2SLGBTQIA+ and gender-diverse people in this province say their mental health is poor or very poor. Over 73 percent say they needed mental health care services but never got them. That’s according to a research project by Quadrangle NL, funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada. The report considers all health care services in this province, and the results are anything but optimistic. Charlie Murphy is the executive director of Quadrangle NL. Ainsley Hawthorn is the project’s research manager.

“And generally speaking, the level of confidence was not that high among health-care providers that they could serve this community,” she said.

“We actually found that 43.8 per cent of [2SLGBTQ+] community members in the province had to educate a health-care provider on their needs in the past year. So that’s not even in their lifetimes, but in the past 12 months.”

Hawthorn said the fear of having to do that actually discourages people from seeking health care. 

Health Minister Tom Osborne responded to the report after question period inside the House of Assembly Monday afternoon.

Charlie Murphy wearing a black baseball cap with Quadrangle's logo, speaking to reporters in front of a Newfoundland and Labrador banner.
Charlie Murphy, the executive director of Quadrangle N.L., says the group is planning workshops to tackle the issues outlined in the report. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

He said a new family-care team for the St. John’s area will have a focus on the gender-diverse community and an all-party committee is in place that has already built a foundation for mental health and addictions services. That committee, he said, will expand on its work to focus on “all populations.”

“I’m certain that the gender-diverse community will be part of that,” he said.

“We’ve had discussions with the provincial health authority and within the department on how we can better approve services for the gender-diverse community and the transgender community.”

But PC Leader Tony Wakeham told reporters there hasn’t been that much movement from the all-party committee.

“It’s great for a minister to announce it, but its got to be doing something,” he said. “Clearly, when we have issues like this that aren’t being addressed, they need to be looked at and I look forward to reading the report and the recommendations, hopefully, that are in it, so we can actually move forward and get something done.”

Quadrangle N.L. is holding a series of town halls to discuss the survey findings further, including one in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.  

Murphy said the next step is taking the research data, putting it to good use and releasing the final report publicly.

“We have some workshops that we’re currently developing,” he said.

“We’re hoping to be able to use those workshops and really kind of push change here in the province.” 

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