Authors: Isabelle McGovern, Laura Hayes, Britt Winstanley, Amy Edwards, Dani Wright Toussaint, Adam Why & Kai Schweizer
Event: 2023 The MHS conference - Adelaide
Subject: LGBTIQ+ people
Type of resource: Video
Presentation 1: Mind's Aftercare: Centering rights and radical compassion in LGBTIQA+ community-based suicide support.
Authors: Isabelle McGovern & Laura Hayes
Research has consistently documented that the LGBTIQA+ community possess disproportionately higher rates of self-injury, suicidality, and mental health difficulties than the general population (King et al., 2008; National Suicide Prevention Adviser, 2020). These experiences are contextualised within everyday and systemic institutionalised experiences of discrimination, violence, and stigma on the basis of their sexuality and gender (Perales, 2019). Previous negative experiences of health services and historical instances of institutional abuse contribute to LGBTIQA+ people not seeking assistance when they need it, compounded by a lack of community trust (Worrell S et al., 2021).
Mind Australia’s Aftercare addresses this key gap in the broader health system, which is the lack of affirming and community-based suicide services for people who are LGBTIQA+. Based in Melbourne, Aftercare is a co-designed peer-led community intervention. Support includes both connection with peer workers and clinical care provided by psychologists from the LGBTIQA+ community. Aftercare also has a groups program which provides ongoing care to previous participants, informed by an Alternatives to Suicide model.
The Aftercare model focuses on:
- Reducing isolation and disconnection through building relationships, solidarity and empowerment
- Developing the tools and stories for a life that is meaningful rather than trying to “force people to live”.
- Reduce stigma, increase self-efficacy and self-connection.
- Support that feels representative, safe, accessible and responsive to the self-determined needs of community members.
- Safety and practical living skills.
Over 120 participants from 14 to 64 years with a diverse range of sexual and gender identities have been assisted at Aftercare since Feburary 2020, attending an average of 17 sessions. An external evaluation demonstrated that Aftercare reduced thoughts of suicide and provide culturally safe care (Impact Co., 2022).
The Program was able to achieve the following outcomes:
o Reduce suicidal ideation
o Improve mental health and wellbeing
o Build the resilience and capacity of clients to manage suicidal ideation more effectively
o Strengthen connections with other LGBTIQ+ people
At the system level, it was able to:
o Increase collaboration and integration between service providers
o Increase the capacity and capability of the system to more effectively support people who are LGBTIQ+
Recently implemented outcome measures indicate significant reduction in psychological distress between entry and exit to the program (t=4.46, df=11, p=0.001).
Aftercare meets the specific needs of LGBTQIA+ Australians with an innovative, lived-experience led model with demonstrated positive impact on mental health, thoughts of suicide, and genuine healing.
The aim of this presentation is to introduce an emerging community-based model of LGBTIQA+ suicide delivery, and more broadly, proposes a new and radical philosophy of care. Participants will leave with a cohesive, co-designed, and evidence-based framework with how community-based suicide interventions can be delivered in minority communities.
Impact Co. (2022). LGBTIQ+ SUICIDE PREVENTION TRIAL: Mind Australia - Aftercare Program, Evaluation Report. Retrieved from Australia:
King, M., Semlyen, J., Tai, S. S., Killaspy, H., Osborn, D., Popelyuk, D., & Nazareth, I. (2008). A systematic review of mental disorder, suicide, and deliberate self harm in lesbian, gay and bisexual people. BMC Psychiatry, 8(1), 1-17.
National Suicide Prevention Adviser. (2020). Compassion First: Designing our national approach from the lived experience of suicidal behaviour. Retrieved from Canberra:
Perales, F. (2019). The health and wellbeing of Australian lesbian, gay and bisexual people: a systematic assessment using a longitudinal national sample. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 43(3), 281-287.
Worrell S, Waling A, Anderson J, Fairchild J, Lyons A, Pepping C, & A, B. (2021). Lean on Me: Exploring Suicide Prevention and Mental Health-Related Peer Support in Melbourne’s LGBTQ Communities.
Presentation 2The Flourishing Rainbow’s Group, Wellness and Recovery.
Authors: Britt Winstanley & Amy Edwards
Driven to make a difference following her lived experience in a sub-acute unit, Britt reflects on her feelings of isolation as no one else identified as LGBTQIA+. She pursued qualifications in mental health, becoming a peer worker and set about creating a safe space for LGBTQIA+ people who experience psychosocial disabilities. Britt tells participant’s stories of finding the Flourishing Rainbow’s Group and how this showed them they can find people who understand. Britt describes the Flourishing Rainbow’s Group as evidence that participants have a sense of belonging to their LGBTQIA+ community, how humanity, kindness and empathy can be transformational in a person’s life, reducing isolation, loneliness and counteracting stigma associated with mental health and how being around like-minded people strengthens self-esteem. Ensuring people can understand and enjoy their human rights by having safe space where they can be fully seen, listened to without judgment, they are free to be themselves, and be amongst their community. Britt describes her role as a Peer worker as powerful and how she is able to show recovery is possible, with hope, equality, empathy, commonality, self-determination, trust solidarity. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together” - Desmond tutu
1. The delegates will get an understanding of how for Amy taking part in the Flourishing Rainbow’s Group has been transformational, has bought hope, recovery, and a sense of belonging.
2. Making a difference using Lived experience and the power of Peer Work, with empathy, inclusion, and humanity.
Presentation 3: An Affirmative and Holistic Model for Working with LGBTIQA+ Young People.
Authors: Dani Wright Toussaint, Adam Why & Kai Schweizer
Perth Inner City Youth Service (PICYS) is a specialised, low threshold youth mental health and accommodation service with an intentional focus on working with LGBTIQA+ young people, with an additional focus within that in working with trans or gender diverse young people. Across its programs, PICYS engages with young people in different stages of crisis and need. Using a human rights approach, these programs are designed to all work together to provide a layered and holistic model of care. PICYS has two case-management programs, a drug and alcohol program, a variety of group programs, and collaborates regularly with community partners. PICYS is a small organisation of 13 staff, with 10 of those being youth workers. This talk will discuss the way in which PICYS integrates its various programs, as well as theoretical understandings of youth work to provide affirmative and holistic care for young people accessing its services.
1. Actively creating and promoting spaces for young people to participate in self and systemic advocacy. See the individual, hear the individual.
2. The PICYS model of practice is designed to meet the unique needs of young people as they experience them from homelessness to mental health and community needs.