Clinical psychology students work with charity to improve mental wellbeing of LGBT+ communities
(L-R) Gemma Budge, Intercom Trust director Michael halls, Dr Jacqui Stedmon, Intercom Trust deputy director Andy Hunt and Nicola Wheeler

Pioneering postgraduates from Plymouth University will be discussing how clinical psychology can contribute to improving the mental wellbeing of the LGBT+ communities at a conference today.

Nicola Wheeler and Gemma Budge from the University’s School of Psychology will be joining the Intercom Trust, a South West-based charity supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities (LGBT+), at its Aiming for Excellence in LGBT+ Mental Healthcare conference in Taunton.

Nicola, Gemma and Plymouth academic Dr Jacqui Stedmon will be presenting new discussions on how clinical psychologists can work collaboratively with commissioners, service stakeholders and other health and social care professionals to meet the needs of people who identify as LGBT+ and have mental health difficulties. Their presentation also coincides with Intercom’s launch of its online training programme for professionals.

In particular, their presentations will focus on the emotional wellbeing difficulties often experienced by people identifying as LGBT+ as a consequence of recognised stigma and discrimination within society regarding sexual and gender identity.

Nicola has built a relationship with the Intercom Trust during her training, culminating in her completing a community psychology placement there next month. 

Nicola said: 

“Clinical psychologists often find it hard to define what we do; our expertise is in working collaboratively with clients to understand their thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and using this understanding to help promote personal and collective change for improved wellbeing. As statistics indicate that suicide and self-harm rates are much higher among the LGBT+ communities compared to the wider population, this presentation and workshop is a great opportunity for us to think with commissioners, service stakeholders and other health and social care professionals about how clinical psychologists can work innovatively, and employ our specialist skills, to increase the psychological wellbeing and resilience of LGBT+ clients in a number of ways”. 

Nicola’s placement is part of a new and unique initiative for clinical psychologists in training developed by University Clinical Director, Annie Mitchell, whereby students are encouraged to undertake placements with community and voluntary services during their final year. 

The department’s relationship with Intercom will be furthered by Gemma starting a year-long placement with them later this year.

Annie Mitchell said: 

“The landscape of healthcare in general is changing, moving towards a much more joined up approach, and we want to see this within the LGBT+ support network too. It can certainly happen with the excellent work of Intercom Trust, as they have made such a positive step forward by including clinical psychology within their conference.” 

Gemma added: 

“Today is a good opportunity to share some of the excellent work we, other psychologists and colleagues are doing collaboratively with the LGBT+ communities. Hopefully this will also inspire the service providers and commissioners present to ensure such support is available in the South West.”

Andy Hunt, Deputy Director at the Intercom Trust, said: 

“We are very excited to be working in partnership with Plymouth University’s Clinical Psychology department and to have Nicola, Gemma and Dr Stedmon presenting at our conference. We believe that through our partnership with the department, and the provision of community psychology placements, we will be able to enrich and help improve the mental health of our clients.”

The Twitter hashtag for this conference is: #lgbtmentalhealthmatters

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