Pathways between LGBTQ migration, social isolation and mental distress: The temporal-relational-spatial experiences of LGBTQ mental health service-users.

Project Details


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) people experience significant health inequalities (Zeeman et al., 2019), including heightened rates of mental health problems and suicidality (Stonewall, 2018). Their social exclusion is multidimensional (Fish, 2010), and social isolation and loneliness are significant lifelong issues (e.g. Fredriksen-Goldsen et al., 2011; Pukett et al., 2015) that have been shown to impact negatively on LGBTQ mental health (Meyer, 2003).
In Brighton & Hove, which has a large LGBTQ population, research indicates that three quarters of LGBTQ people experience psychological distress (Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC), 2019), and that isolation and loneliness are widespread (Browne, 2007). 

Although known as the UK’s ‘Gay Capital’ (Browne & Bakshi, 2013), the presumption that everything is ‘sorted’ for LGBTQ people in Brighton is misplaced (McGlynn, 2017). In the UK Government briefing ‘Tackling Loneliness’ (2019), identifying as LGBTQ and leaving home are both named as risk factors for social isolation and loneliness. 
Leaving home is of particular relevance to LGBTQ people who may undertake significant internal and international migration in search of safety, acceptance, and a sense of ‘home’ (Gorman-Murray, 2008; Sinfield, 2000; Pilkey, 2011). Local services indicate that LGBTQ migrants in Brighton and Hove may be particularly isolated and at risk of mental health issues (BHCC, 2018). However, it appears no research explores how LGBTQ migration (internal and international) interacts with isolation and mental health.

This interdisciplinary, empirical pilot research is a partnership between MindOut, a Brighton LGBTQ mental health charity, and researchers from the Centre for Transforming Sexuality and Gender at University of Brighton. It brings together social-psychological mental health approaches with social geographies of gender and sexualities, to ask:What are the pathways between LGBTQ migration, social isolation and/or loneliness and mental health experiences for LGBTQ mental health service-users settled in Brighton and Hove?

This qualitative research focuses on understanding the temporal- relational-spatial experiences of LGBTQ mental health service-users. This requires development of a novel visual interview methodology, to be derived from Relational Mapping Interviews (Boden et al., 2019), biographical timelines, and psychogeographic spatial mapping methodologies. Participants will be <15 LGBTQ MindOut mental health-service users (18+) who have migrated to, and settled in, Brighton.
Participants will be invited to two individual semi-structured ‘mapping’ interviews. In interview one, participants are invited to make a drawing (‘map’) of their migration to Brighton, considering points of isolation and loneliness. In interview two, participants will map their experiences in Brighton. Verbal and visual data will be analysed using an adaptation of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA; Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009) which has been developed for use with multimodal data (Boden, Larkin & Iyer, 2018).

Expected outputs and dissemination
Outputs are: an academic paper summarising key findings; a methodological paper detailing the novel mapping methodology; a report to inform local and national policy and LGBTQ mental health provision; a community engagement and networking event to disseminate key findings and consult on further research; and development of a funding application with a national remit to advance this work.

Layman's description

This project explores relationships between migration, social isolation, loneliness, and mental health for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people.

LGBTQ people face discrimination and social exclusion, and have significantly poorer mental health. Many LGBTQ people migrate in search of safety, acceptance and community. A popular destination is Brighton, sometimes described as the UK’s ‘Gay Capital’.

Collaborating with the LGBTQ mental health charity, MindOut, and drawing on insights from psychology and geography, we will invite LGBTQ people with lived experience to participate in interviews and draw maps of their spatial and relational experiences migrating to and living in Brighton.
Effective start/end date1/09/2028/02/22



    • PRP x 2 19/20


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