You might have read our blog post about the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Guide, which has been developed in collaboration with Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT). Paired with this the HPFT wrote a report about monitoring the sexuality and gender identity of the children and young people using HPFT Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; shedding light on the benefits, barriers and recommendations for practice.
After initially embarking on the project to develop a monitoring tool for sexual orientation and gender identity in CAMHS the HPFT adjusted the aims of this piece of work to start thinking about whether it was necessary to monitor sexual orientation and gender identity in CAMHS at all. They felt this was an important place to start as the development of the tool needs to follow a rationale.
In order to develop a rationale the HPFT looked at existing research of why monitoring in health services is important and specifically what current ways to monitor sexual orientation and gender identity are being used. A lot of the research indicated that there is a high prevalence of mental health difficulties in those identifying as LGBT*Q which suggests the importance of monitoring in health services to ensure that services are accessible to these individuals, and if they aren’t ensuring services think about ways they can be.
Young people were asked in a focus group within an inpatient setting as well as in the community along with parents and carers through a questionnaire for their opinions of whether sexual orientation and gender identity should be monitored, what age they felt young people should be asked about their sexual orientation and gender identity, how they would like to be asked i.e. through face to face discussion or via a form and what a tool might look like.
It was felt generally that sexual orientation and gender identity should be monitored in health services however there were some differing opinions about what age young people should be asked, requiring some further thought and feedback from more young people and carers if a monitoring tool was to be developed.
Following the results short, medium and long term recommendations could be made as to how to proceed with developing a tool for CAMHS starting with on-going training for staff working in HPFT around mental health issues in the LGBT*Q community followed by the development of a tool and the roll out of this. This project has highlighted the importance on the involvement of staff, young people and carers when thinking about developing a tool. Staff needs to feel motivated to use the tool meaningfully, young people feel comfortable and confident to use the tool if they want to and carers feel that their children are being asked appropriate questions.