Gay Men's Health Banner

10a Union Street EDINBURGH EH1 3LU. Tel 0131 558 9444.
Scottish Charity Number sco23479. Registered company number 156826.

Gay Men's Health can be contacted at the above address and/or phone number. Please use the e-mail form to contact us. All enquiries are treated in strict confidence.

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Annual Report 2002-2003

Counselling and support services

Counselling services

Gay men’s health never originally intended to run a counselling service. Way back in 1995 we had a group of volunteers who had been given some training to work with people bereaved as a result of hiv-related illnesses. Thankfully, as medications improved we found there was less and less need for this service. Meanwhile the counselling and support manager was seeing an increasing number of people who wanted to talk through other personal difficulties and who would prefer to come to a gay men’s service to do that. We started developing a counselling service using trained volunteers in order to meet this unexpected demand, and this has developed over the years to the point where we now run a professional counselling service respected throughout scotland.

We have eight counsellors working with us, all of whom have completed or are on student placement while completing a professional qualification in counselling. We are seeing more clients than ever before, dealing with a wider range of problems and providing more services.

To demonstrate the popularity and growth of our counselling services, below is a breakdown of the number of attended sessions since 1998.

1999: 240 sessions
2000: 492 sessions
2001: 646 sessions
2002: 751 sessions
2003: 860 sessions (estimated, based on 434 completed sessions by end of june)

Our counselling services use the core-pc monitoring and evaluation system, which has been developed specifically to measure the effectiveness of psychological therapies in alleviating distress. It also helps us monitor our services and compare them to others throughout the uk.

Although we are still in the early stages of using the system, and the statistics will become more representative over time, we have to date gathered the following information about our counselling services:

  • 83% of clients had clinical and statistically significant improvement as a result of counselling with gmh. This means they were severely distressed before starting counselling and feeling ok when they finished.

  • 17% of clients had reliable but not clinically significant improvement as a result of counselling. This means that they stopped counselling at a point where they had improved but still didn’t feel completely ok.

  • This makes us one of the most successful services when compared to others across the uk for overall measured client improvement during counselling.

  • 11% of clients who finished therapy did not complete the final evaluation form, so we do not know whether they felt better, worse or roughly the same after counselling.

  • Clients wanted to address a variety of different problems in counselling. A breakdown of client problems is printed below :

Problem and % of clients experiencing

Alcohol / drug problem: 21%
Anxiety / stress: 51%
Bereavement / loss: 21%
Learning difficulty: 3%
Depression: 67%
Eating disorder: 6%
Interpersonal / relationship problems: 90%
Living / welfare problems: 21%
Work / academic problems: 38%
Physical problems: 22%
Hallucinating / hearing voices: 6%
Self esteem / confidence: 54%
Trauma / abuse: 29%

This year we have started to provide couple and relationship counselling in addition to the one-to-one counselling we offer. Our counsellors were given additional training in relationships work by couple counselling scotland to prepare for this work. The service was advertised in core magazine and through small business cards we designed and distributed.

We have also been developing group-work for gay and bisexual men, and will be running a new group for gay and bisexual men later this year.

In addition, from this year we will also be able to offer some family therapy for gay and bisexual men having difficulties in their relationships with parents, children and/or partners.

We have been working with a variety of different individuals and groups to look at ways of encouraging more diversity within counselling. This has included work with a group of local representatives from agencies such as lothian centre for integrated living (who offer a peer counselling service for disabled people), saheliya (who provide counselling to black and minority ethnic women), men in mind (a mental health project for black and minority ethnic men) as well as representation on a bacp (british association for counselling and psychotherapy) working group looking at diversity and developing a way forward for the race division.

We are currently updating our website so it will have far more information about the counselling we offer, as well as photographs of our counselling team.


We worked with Lgbt Youth Scotland (formerly Stonewall Youth) to conduct a small piece of research into suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviours amongst young gay and bisexual men in edinburgh. We received 112 completed questionnaires from a random sample of young men in the gay pubs and clubs. 98 of these responses were useable and only ten men who were approached chose not to participate in the research. The results are shocking –

  • 58.2% of respondents had at some point felt their life was not worth living

  • 29.6% of respondents had at some point deliberately injured themselves without intending to take their own life

  • 54.1% of respondents had seriously considered suicide at some point

  • 24.5% of respondents still considered suicide occasionally

  • 25.5% of respondents had at some point made a deliberate attempt to end their life.

A report will be written outlining the research findings, and recommendations will be made to address these issues.

Video for newly diagnosed men

In collaboration with solas, we have facilitated a project in which a group of gay and bisexual men living with hiv developed a video about living with hiv and sources of support. This video is now being given out to newly diagnosed men by gum and ward 41 hiv clinic.

Juice group

For a limited time we facilitated the waverley care / solas juice group for gay and bisexual men living with hiv, working with members to develop a new way forward for the group.

Training and conferences

We have provided workshops, training and consultancy to many different organisations this year, including :

  • Working with sexually abused men (for victim support branches across scotland)

  • Working with people in same-sex relationships (with couple counselling scotland and beyond barriers, at the cosca conference)

  • Sexual abuse and mental health (for mental health professionals in ayrshire and arran)

  • Mental health workshop (for young people at lgbt youth scotland)

  • Mental health of gay and bisexual men for the men’s health forum

  • Working with lgbt people for positive help

  • Ensuring and encouraging diversity within counselling organisations (at the counselling and society conference organised by the university of edinburgh)

We have also participated in ongoing training for our counselling team, including :

  • Counselling couples and people in relationships (3-day training by Couple Counselling Scotland)

  • Counselling Disabled People

  • Challenging Ideas – counselling people living with HIV (by Terrence Higgins Trust)

  • Fragile and Dissociated Process – working with people who are severely disturbed (by Margaret Warner)

Craig Hutchison

Counselling and Support Manager

Annual Review 2002-2003

> Introduction
> Community Development
> Core Magazine
> Counselling
> Events and Resources
> Fatigue
> Figures
> Testing Barriers Project



Last updated 14th July 2004

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