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Very little is known about the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) military personnel in the UK. A recent review of thirty papers looking at the health and well-being of serving and ex-serving (veteran)LGBT personnel (Mark, McNamara et al. 2019) found no UK studies on this population and noted that few studies had focused on mental health outcomes pertinent to the military community such as post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD), depression, or alcohol misuse among this population. Studies also tended to differ by group, with studies of mental health more common among transgender personnel while only LGB personnel and veterans were included in studies of substance misuse. As such, there is an important need to understand the health and wellbeing of this population amid increasing diversity among the UK Armed Forces (Ministry of Defence 2018).
This study, in partnership with the Royal British Legion(tRBL), aims to address this gap in the research by using survey data and interviews to understand the health and well-being of serving and ex-serving LGBT+ personnel in the UK Armed Forces. Data from a large survey of UK military personnel will be used to look at the mental health outcomes of serving and ex-serving LGB personnel compared to non-LGB personnel and interviews will be used to explore what influences the health and wellbeing of ex-serving LGBT+ personnel across their military service (e.g., deployment, stigma, discrimination, help-seeking). This study will be underpinned by minority stress theory (MST)(Meyer 2003), which proposes that chronic exposure to stressful social situations, and victimisation and stigma, leads to poorer well-being among minority groups, through surrounding stressors such as stigma and discrimination or closer stressors such as heightened vigilance to perceived stigma, concealment of identity and negative feelings about one’s social identity.
This findings from this PhD project will have important implications for supporting and directing research, policy, and services regarding LGBT+ personnel and veterans. Findings will be disseminated to key stakeholders within UK government and defence policy, military charities, and LGBT+ organisations, as well as national and international conferences. The student will benefit from the support and involvement of the Royal British Legion and opportunities for mentoring and internships, the experience of the supervisory team, particularly in CASE studentships.