Dr Willem J Stander PhD, FHEA, MBPsS

Willem Stander

Health Services Management Centre
Research Fellow

Contact details

Park House, Park Road
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2RT

Willem is a postdoctoral research fellow specialising in research on the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ and youth populations as well as enhancing professionals’ practice with these groups. He is skilled in a broad range of qualitative and quantitative research methods, PRISMA-compliant reviews, and evaluative designs including randomised controlled trials. Much of Willem’s work is cross-disciplinary and he is particularly passionate about participatory and co-design approaches. He has also previously worked as a psychology lecturer teaching across a range of core psychology curriculum areas and social science programmes.

His research and teaching interests include:

  • the health, mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ and youth populations;
  • enhancing health and social care professional’s engagement with marginalised and underserved populations;
  • help-seeking behaviours; and,
  • digital mental health interventions and community-based outreach work.

Willem has also collaborated with a range of community-based and voluntary sector organisations including Stonewall (the UK’s leading LGBTQ+ charity), What Works for Children’s Social Care, The Trevor Project (the world’s largest LGBTQ+ suicide prevention and mental health organisation), and MindOut (Brighton-based LGBTQ+ mental health charity).


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (formerly Teaching & Learning in Higher Education), University of Brighton
  • PhD in Applied Social Science, University of Brighton
  • MA in Community Psychology, University of Brighton
  • MA in Psychology, University of South Africa (UNISA)
  • BA (Hons) in Psychology, University of South Africa (UNISA)


Originally from Namibia, Willem came to the UK to pursue his postgraduate studies. He completed his PhD in Applied Social Science at the University of Brighton in 2020. His thesis examined how gay and bisexual men look for mental health support online, and how specialist services use digital and social media to reach and engage with the LGBTQ+ community. He has also previously contributed to research projects focused on men’s unwanted sexual experiences and LGBTQ youth work during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Willem’s research interests include LGBTQ+ and youth populations; health, wellbeing, and mental health; help-seeking behaviours; digital mental health interventions; and, community-based outreach work.

Current Projects

Assessing sexual behaviours in children and young people aged 13 – 18 in the UK

  • ESRC New Investigators Grant (£300,000), June 2022 – June 2024, Research Fellow.

This research intends to explore what constitutes normal, problematic, abusive and violent sexual behaviours in children and young people in the UK aged 13-18. This data will then be used to develop an assessment tool for professionals working with children and young people. This is in collaboration with Brook Charity and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation.

With Dr Sophie King-Hill (Principal Investigator).

View the project website 

Previous projects 

LGBTQ+ Young People in Social cAre (LYPSA) project

  • Funded by What Works for Children’s Social Care (£267,000), April 2021 – March 2023, Research Fellow. 

The LYPSA project sought to understand and improve the social care experiences of LGBTQ+ young people in England. The project has now concluded and included three foundational studies:

  1. A systematic scoping review of the international evidence base concerning the health and wellbeing experiences of LGBTQ+ young people in foster and residential care;
  2. A qualitative interview study providing the first in-depth analysis of LGBTQ+ young people’s residential care experiences in England; and,
  3. The first randomised controlled trial testing the effectiveness of an LGBTQ+ e-learning training module for children’s social workers in England. 

The project included collaboration and co-production with a young advisors’ group who have lived experiences of social care and identify as LGBTQ+, as well as stakeholder groups connected to LGBTQ+ young people in social care. 

With Dr Jason Schaub (Principal Investigator) and Professor Paul Montgomery (Co-investigator).

Other activities

Willem is currently on a steering committee for the Comics Youth's LGBT+ Me project – an independent comics label for young people (aged 8 to 13), specifically devoted to educating, raising awareness and tackling stigma associated with being an LGBTQIA young person today.


Journal Articles:

Schaub, J., Keemink, J. R., Stander, W. J., & Montgomery, P. (2023). Effectiveness of an LGBTQ+ E-Learning Module for Social Workers: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Research on Social Work Practicehttps://doi.org/10.1177/10497315231208199

Schaub, J., Stander, W. J., & Montgomery, P. (2023). Residential Social Care Experiences of LGBTQ+ Young People in England: A Qualitative Interview Study. The British Journal of Social Work, bcad158. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcad158

Schaub, J., Stander, W. J., & Montgomery, P. (2022). LGBTQ+ Young People’s Health and Well-being Experiences in Out-of-Home Social Care: A Scoping Review. Children and Youth Services Review, 106682. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2022.106682

Book Chapters:

Stander, W. J. (2021). “Becoming (in)visible: On mental health, help-seeking and missing connections”. In: Rodríguez-Dorans, E. and Holmes, J. (eds.). The everyday lives of gay men: autoethnographies of the ordinary. London: Routledge.


Schaub, J., Keemink, J. R., Stander, W. J., & Montgomery, P. (2023). Evaluation of E-learning training module for social workers supporting LGBTQ+ young people in England. What Works for Children’s Social Care: https://foundations.org.uk/our-work/legacy-reports/lypsa-evaluation-of-e-learning-training/

Schaub, J., Stander, W. J., & Montgomery, P. (2022). LGBTQ+ young people’s experiences of residential social care in England. What Works for Children’s Social Care: https://whatworks-csc.org.uk/research-report/lgtbq-young-peoples-experiences-of-residential-social-care-in-england/


King-Hill, S.K., Gilsenan, A., & Stander, W.J. (2023, May). Relationships and sex education review: government must remember history of LGBTQ+ discrimination in English schools. The Conversation (UK).

King-Hill, S.K., Gilsenan, A., & Stander, W.J. (2023, Mar). Sex education review: controversial proposals risk failing young people. The Conversation (UK). 

Stander, W. (2020, Jun). LGBTQ people urgently need specialist mental health support – but is lackingThe Conversation (UK). 

View all publications in research portal