ACON launches new mental health strategy

Mental Strategy 2014Helping LGBTI people in NSW to improve their mental health and wellbeing is the focus of a new five year strategic plan from ACON.

Launched last Friday in Sydney by The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, the ACON Mental Health And Wellbeing Health Outcome Strategy 2013 – 2018 details how ACON plans to reduce negative impacts on the mental health of LGBTI people 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.

Announcing the release of the plan at the annual Pride In Diversity Awards Luncheon – a LGBTI workplace inclusion event which ties in with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (17 May) – Mr Kirby said the plan responds to a range of issues, including the impact that violence and discrimination has on the mental health of LGBTI people.

“Sadly, homophobia and transphobia can manifest anywhere – in the home, at school, on the street, on the internet, or in the workplace,” said Mr Kirby.

“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.

“I’m very pleased to announce the release of ACON’s new five year strategy for improving the mental health of LGBTI people in NSW. 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. I commend this work.”

ACON President Mark Orr says there’s a pressing need for mental health services which support the needs of LGBTI people and communities. “While many LGBTI people live happy, healthy and productive lives, there are a range of preventable mental health issues which affect a disproportionate number of people in the LGBTI community compared to the general population,” says Mr Orr.

“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 living with HIV and LGBTI people improve their mental health now and into the future.

“Our new five year plan 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 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, including 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; and working to increase research into LGBTI mental health and wellbeing.

For more information on the ACON Mental Health And Wellbeing Health Outcome Strategy 2013 – 2018, visit: www.acon.org.au/strategies for details.

Image: courtesy of ACON

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