May26

ACON’s strategy to improve the mental health outcomes of LGBTI people

CREATED ON // Monday, 26 May 2014 Written by // Nic Parkhill

While many LGBTI people and people with HIV live happy, healthy and productive lives, there are a range of preventable mental health issues which affect a disproportionate number of thesepeople compared to the general population.

While this is due to a range of social and cultural issues, the overwhelming cause is the impact that stigma and discrimination has on the mental health of LGBTI people and people with HIV.

This was noted by Michael Kirby at the recent Pride In Diversity LGBTI workplace inclusion awards, which recognise employer support for LGBTI people.

“Sadly, homophobia and transphobia can manifest anywhere – in the home, at school, on the street, on the internet, or in the workplace,” Kirby said. “The effect of discrimination, exclusion and violence on the mental health of LGBTI people is well documented, with LGBTI people experiencing higher rates of depression, anxiety, stress and suicidality.”

Clearly there’s a pressing need for mental health services which support the needs of people with HIV as well as LGBTI people and communities.

Mental ill health affects decision-making in relation to other health issues, such as HIV, sexual health, alcohol and drugs, and family and domestic violence, so it’s important that ACON works strategically to help people with HIV and LGBTI people improve their mental health now and into the future.

To help us achieve this, we recently released a new strategic plan to guide the delivery of our mental health programs and services over the next five years.

Our Mental Health And Wellbeing Health Outcome Strategy 2013 - 2018 details how ACON plans to reduce negative impacts on the mental health of LGBTI people and people with HIV as well as increase factors which contribute to good mental wellbeing. 

The plan has been developed over the last six months following extensive consultation with ACON’s communities and stakeholders. 

The strategy sets out a range of programs, services, partnerships and approaches that will help ACON deliver better mental health outcomes for our community in the future.

It sets out how we will work with our clients, communities, mental health service providers and other relevant stakeholders to improve the mental health outcomes of LGBTI people and people with HIV through better approaches to both treatment and prevention.     

Highlights of the plan include:

• Continued provision of specialist counselling and case co-ordination services

• Supporting other agencies to offer inclusive services, through LGBTI cultural awareness training

• Addressing the determinants of poorer mental health outcomes; discrimination and homophobia

• A focus on promoting good mental health, building resilience and mental health literacy

• Building and strengthening partnerships across the mental health sector

• Working to increase research into LGBTI mental health and wellbeing

The strategy can be viewed and downloaded at www.acon.org.au/strategies.

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Nic Parkhill

Nic Parkhill

Nic Parkhill is the Chief Executive Officer of ACON.

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