Encouraging gay men to become ‘Lifeguards’ for their mates

RelationshipResearch shows that gay men often see their friends struggling with anxiety and depression but lack the confidence to reach out to them. In an effort to tackle the alarming rates of depression, anxiety and suicide amongst gay men, the National LGBTI Health Alliance in association with beyondblue and the Movember Foundation have announced the Lifeguard Project.

Fostering a community conversation whilst educating gay men across Australia, the Lifeguard Project will give gay men the confidence, knowledge and skills to become ‘Lifeguards’ in their social networks, to support themselves, and their partners and friends, if they are struggling. The $410,000 project will feature a highly interactive online toolkit containing practical strategies, advice and actions.

“Lifeguard will be an important new tool that is specifically made with and speaks to gay men,” says beyondblue CEO, Georgie Harman. “It will help build a national community of action takers as it builds gay men’s understanding of anxiety and depression. We hope it will make lives better and even save lives.”

Rebecca Reynolds, Executive Director of the National LGBTI Health Alliance said; “This project will provide a whole new level of support to gay male identified individuals and communities by encouraging them to be confident to know how and when to help their mates experiencing anxiety and depression and how and when to encourage their mates to seek help and support.”

The Lifeguard Project Project Team will work closely with the gay community to help develop the toolkit – which is expected to be trialled in 2015.

If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, you can speak to a peer community counsellor through the QLife Project on 1800 184 527 or via web chat at www.qlife.org.au – 7 days a week from 5:30 – 10:30pm across Australia. Mental health professionals with the beyondblue Support Service are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1300 22 4636 or by webchat at www.beyondblue.org.au 3.00pm to midnight.

For more information and resources, visit: www.beyondblue.org.au/pride for details.