S37: The Mental Health of LGBTIQ People and Communities

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By September 11, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Sally Morris

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: The Mental Health of LGBTIQ People and Communities

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Sally Morris is on a mission to prevent suicide and improve the mental health of LGBTIQ people and communities. With an academic and professional background in human services, Sally has been working in the LGBTIQ communities since 2005 when she began as a volunteer peer telephone counsellor. Over the last 15 years, Sally has worked and volunteered in numerous LGBTIQ organisations, including Diverse Voices, Open Doors Youth Service, the Queensland AIDS Council, and the National LGBTI Health Alliance where she implemented LGBTIQ mental health and suicide prevention sector development and community capacity building activities.

With this commitment to developing supportive LGBTIQ communities, Sally co-founded Wendybird in 2014 that brings together a passionate and skilled group of LGBTIQ people that build and facilitate community spaces that foster belonging for those who are so often excluded. Sally brings together a unique combination of knowledge of LGBTIQ communities, along with expertise in suicide prevention and community development, to provide insight to the role that social inclusion has in improving mental health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ people.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people have disproportionate rates of poorer mental health than their peers, and have heightened rates of mental health diagnosis of anxiety and depression along with increased rates of suicidal behaviours. This elevated risk of mental ill-health is due to psychological distress that occurs as a result of experiences of exclusion, stigma, discrimination, prejudice, abuse and violence that LGBTI people experience in our society.

Many mental health services do not feel confident in supporting LGBTI people due to a lack of knowledge and so endeavour to ‘treat everyone the same’. However the mental health of LGBTI people does not benefit from this framework as it does not create room for specific lived experiences of LGBTI people, nor does it redress the barriers that reduce the ability of LGBTI people to access mental health services. Consequently LGBTI people are inadequately supported by mental health services, and in many cases actively avoid seeking support due to fear and expectations of stigma.

As a safe, supportive and interactive space, this workshop session will support participants to gain an understanding of LGBTI people, their lived experiences, and how this impacts on their mental health. This introductory information will support mental workers and programs begin to provide inclusive and accessible services to LGBTI people and communities.

The learning objectives of the workshop are:
- Gain a basic understanding of LGBTI people and communities, including understanding terminology and inclusive language
- To have an appreciation of the lived experience of LGBTI people and communities
- Improved knowledge of the mental health outcomes of LGBTI people
- Understanding of barriers that impact on LGBTI peoples ability to access services and receive mental health support
- Increase access to services, support and resources for LGBTI people

The workshop outline will be:
15 minutes: Understanding who are LGBTI people and communities
10 minutes: Gaining an awareness of the social and cultural experiences of LGBTI People
10 minutes: Mental health outcomes of LGBTI people
15 minutes The role of service providers in supporting the mental health of LGBTI people
10 minutes: Further questions and discussion

Learning Objectives

Learning Objective 1: To gain awareness of the mental health outcomes of LGBTI people and communities, and to understand the the underlying contributing factors that result in poor mental health outcomes of LGBTI people

Learning Objective 2: To understand the barriers that prevent LGBTI people from accessing mental health services, and identify how mental health service providers can support LGBTI people in their mental health.

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