Dr Mathijs Lucassen, in conjunction with Professor Louise Wallace and Dr Raj Samra, all from the WELS School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, has been awarded a grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Public Health Intervention Development (PHIND) Scheme to co-design an online rainbow wellbeing toolkit to promote wellbeing and resilience in LGBTQ+ adolescents.
Public Health England have previously identified ten areas for the biggest impact over the next five years, one of which is mental health, with a particular aim in the field to reduce the development and exacerbation of mental health problems, including among children and adolescents and groups considered to be high risk.
Despite rapid social progress lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/trans and queer (LGBTQ+) adolescents often still experience distressing abuse, bullying and victimisation and are at a disproportionate risk of health issues as a result. For example, 54% of LGB adolescents from the nationally representative Millennium Cohort Study in the UK had clinically significant depressive symptoms (compared to 15% of heterosexuals)1.
Dr Lucassen said, “Unfortunately abuse and socially hostile environments are still commonplace for many LGBTQ+ young people. The mistreatment faced directly impacts on their mental health. A pressing public health challenge is addressing the adverse effects of the social violence these adolescents experience. We are excited that this newly funded project will focus on building resilience.”
Working in conjunction with co-investigators from the University of Hertfordshire and King’s College London as well as LGBTQ+ youth organisations, commissioners and third sector service providers the project is to be delivered over the next 18 months.
The main aims include co-designing an engaging, innovative and scalable online rainbow wellbeing toolkit to help LGBTQ+ adolescents enhance their cognitive and behavioural coping skills, and foster resilience in order to decrease their risk of adverse health outcomes. The team will work with LGBTQ+ adolescents, as well as others (including the police, therapists, education and youth workers), to develop the toolkit, drawing on The Open University’s expertise in harnessing innovations in multi-media learning.
The project will also explore how the online toolkit can be used within UK public health systems and go on to plan the delivery of this intervention, determining the design and measures for a future effectiveness study.
Find out more about the Promoting Resilience and Wellbeing through co-Design (PRIDE): The PRIDE Rainbow Toolkit Project.
1. Amos R, et al. Mental health, social adversity, and health-related outcomes in sexual minority adolescents: a contemporary national cohort study. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health 2020;4(1):36-45.