The mental health needs of the West Australian LGBTIQ community are to be further assisted with the launch of the Opening Closets Mental Health Training program. $75,000 is to be invested into the initiative, aimed at addressing our rainbow community currently sitting at the bottom rung of mental health outcomes.
Mental Health Minister Helen Morton is in full support of the program, pointing out that LGBT people are 14 times more likely to attempt suicide. The unique training program is aimed at creating a better understanding of LGBT needs through frontline mental health and telephone crisis workers,
‘Developing a better understanding and knowledge of the needs of LGBTI people will help reduce stigma and discrimination and improve their access to mainstream mental health services’, she said.
The launch took place at the King Street Arts Centre; former WA AIDS Council CEO Trish Langdon hosted the event. The Honourable Minister Morton spoke at the launch, stating – ‘What I think is really exciting is first of all the title “Opening Closets”, I think that’s excellent, but also how the focus is on strengthening, teaching, coaching, mentoring, enabling mainstream services to be better accessed by the gay and lesbian community,
‘It’s about training mental health services staff to be more accessible to people from LGBTI and I fully understand the importance of that and can see it’s applicability across the whole state’.
The development of the program has stemmed from research gathered via the State-wide LGBTIQ Community Action Plan, which is funded by the WA Suicide Prevention Strategy.
Replacing Nadine Toussaint, the newly appointed chairperson for Gay and Lesbian Community Services (GLCS) Davina Morley spoke at the event –
‘I would like to thank the Mental Health Commission and the Minister for Mental Health for funding the current project. GLCS has provided volunteer based telephone counselling for LGBTI people in Perth for over 35 years, and over this time it has been apparent that LGBTI people are hesitant to access mainstream services for fear of discrimination and justice, this is concerning because LGBT people are found to be at a high risk of mental health issues’.
Regan Smith is the training officer for GLCS and will be undertaking the training for the frontline mental health services. Previously worked for Uniting Care West and True Colours
‘I’m really excited about this training, the training has been developed to really bridge a gap between what our community needs to be able to access and what services need to be able to provide that support and facilitate that access,
‘The fear of judgement is enough to stop someone approaching help’.