High achiever leaves after 25 years in LGBTI mental health
A key promoter of mental health for Queensland’s LGBTI community has decided to move on after 25 years with Brisbane-based psychologist Paul Martin announcing he will cease his public advocacy work to instead focus on a new career challenge.
Martin, principal psychologist at the Centre for Human Potential, has taken a position with international workplace psychology consultants Sentis, after advocating for mental health in the LGBTI community since the 1990s.
“My dream was to create a centre where inclusion and diversity principles were central,” Martin told Queensland Pride, “where whoever came into that space felt valued; and that it was a place where people wanted to work.
“That’s now happened and over the last five years I’ve developed that and it’s a bit of a legacy and it’s time for me personally to move to the next stage in life.”
Himself a survivor of a Christian ex-gay program, Martin said he began his work in the LGBTI community at a time when clients and friends were decimated by HIV.
“I’ve seen some amazing changes. At the beginning there was this incredible sense of victimised, fragmented communities, damaged people – along with a lot of people who weren’t damaged!” he said.
“But certainly a huge amount of damage being done by churches with the ex-gay programs, and damage by the media with homophobia that was overt and allowed to be.”
Stressing the importance of equal marriage on the overall mental health of gays and lesbians, Martin said denying marriage feeds into the internalised homophobia many gays and lesbians feel because society does not validate their relationships.
The first 100 days of the LNP Newman Government turned the clock back on LGBTI people, according to Martin: “A lot of people were being psychologically damaged by the ideologically driven evangelical Christian motivated homophobic roll-back to gay rights that was happening,” he said.
“But things will eventually recalibrate. If marriage equality happens, it will be across the board – if federally – and that will have a huge impact on people in Queensland.”
Martin said he wants to ensure the centre continues to make a difference.
“I will be mentoring a new generation of psychologists to take over my role so we don’t lose the accumulated knowledge I’ve gained over the years,” he said.
“I have a great love for LGBTI communities and want to thank everyone who has encouraged me and stood by me through the years when the going got tough.
"Special thanks to my colleagues including Rodney Croome, Alex Greenwich, Dr Kerryn Phelps and Shelley Argent.”
Australian Marriage Equality’s Rodney Croome said Martin made a crucial contribution to the marriage equality campaign by highlighting the mental health impacts of reform.
“Paul’s tireless efforts educating decision-makers about LGBTI mental health have demonstrably increased support for marriage equality,” Croome said.
“His support for other marriage equality advocates, as a friend and a counsellor, has also been valuable. I’m sorry to see him go.”