Dr Willem J Stander PhD, AFHEA, MBPsS

Willem Stander

Department of Social Work and Social Care
Research Fellow

Contact details

Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Willem is a postdoctoral research fellow focusing on LGBTQ young people’s experiences of social care. His research and teaching interests include gender and sexuality, particularly improving the wellbeing of – and professional engagement with – LGBTQ people. He has experience working as a psychology lecturer and has taught across a range of core psychology curriculum areas, including quantitative and qualitative research methods. He has also collaborated with community-based and voluntary sector organisations to produce research in aid of service design and delivery.


  • 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 this group. He has also contributed to research projects focused on men’s unwanted sexual experiences and LGBTQ youth work during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Research interests:

Willem’s research interests include LGBTQ populations, mental health, help-seeking behaviours and digital interventions.

Current projects:

  • LGBTQ+ young people's experiences of social care
  • What Works for Children’s Social Care and other What Works Centres (£267,000) April 2021 – March 2023, Research Fellow.

Two linked studies: the first qualitatively assesses the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in residential care, the second evaluates an LGBTQ+ training programme for social workers working with LGBTQ+ young people. This project is the first in the UK to gather experiences of LGBTQ+ young people in residential care, and to understand what works and what needs to change to improve LGBTQ knowledge for social workers. Both studies are co-produced, working with stakeholder groups including youth, carers, social workers, support organisations and policymakers that are connected to LGBTQ+ young people.

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.


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

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.

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


View all publications in research portal