Shock mental health figures spark action

GAY, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) residents of Dubbo are up to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide and five times more likely to experience major depressive episodes.

Free workshops at Dubbo on December 7 and 8 are in response to the shocking statistics that tell of community members in need of support.

They are part of the Peace of Mind program developed by HIV and GLBT health organisation ACON, working with the Mental Health Coordinating Council after collaboration with the National LGBTI Health Alliance and Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria.

ACON chief executive officer Nicolas Parkhill said the program was a preventative measure designed to help people recognise the signs of mental health distress and respond helpfully.

"Current research shows that GLBT people are more likely to experience mental health issues than people in the general community," he said.

"For example, GLBT people are twice as likely to experience anxiety disorders, three times as likely to experience affective disorders such as depression and social phobias, five times more likely to experience major depressive episodes and up to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide."

Mr Parkhill said supportive personal networks were among the most powerful tools for supporting recovery.

"Peace of Mind aims to help community members identify and make the most of their strengths to support our loved ones who may be in distress," he said.

ACON's boss said a trial of the program earlier this year got a "terrific response from participants".

"We anticipate a lot of interest so I encourage people to register for a place as soon as possible," Mr Parkhill said.

The four-hour workshop on Friday, December 7, targets service providers.

It will provide an introduction to GLBT-specific mental health factors and helpful hints on how to "make you service more GLBT inclusive".

To register contact Vicky Coumbe on vcoumbe@acon.org.au or by calling 02 9206 2121.

The workshop on Saturday, December 8, is available to GLBT community members, their families and friends.

"This one-day workshop is about understanding the experience of mental distress and supporting people who experience mental health problems," Mr Parkhill said.

"This is not a therapeutic workshop and is not suitable for people who are currently experiencing mental distress."

To register go to www.peaceofmindproject.com.au

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