Mind Australia’s LGBTIQA+ suicide prevention support service has received a month’s worth of referrals in just two days in the wake of a number of appalling anti-trans events around the country.
The influx of people seeking support in Victoria occurred after a number of highly publicised events, including an event on the steps of Victorian Parliament attended by Nazis.
Mind’s Aftercare service has had a month’s worth of referrals in two days and an increase in anecdotal reports of higher levels of distress and thoughts of suicide from within the LGBTIQ+ community.
This demonstrates yet again the very real mental health impacts of the ongoing fringe campaign targeting trans people and the broader LGBTIQ+ community.
Katie Larsen - Mind’s Senior Manager Inclusion and Participation said the "virulent anti-trans commentary” exacerbated the multiple everyday discrimination and at times, violence, trans-people experience.
“Trans people experience systemic discrimination, such as expensive affirmative healthcare or not being taken seriously when reporting family violence, or policies that do not recognise trans-people,” Katie said.
“We know that there is a direct link to psychological distress and suicidality from these public discussions, particularly among young people.”
Katie said the continued “appalling and discriminatory public commentary about the rights of the LGBTIQA+ community to simply exist”, has demonstrated the importance of programs like Mind’s Aftercare.
Aftercare is a free to access service funded by the Victorian government. Mind’s Aftercare team is a LGBTIQA+ team consisting of mental health peer support workers, counsellors and psychologists who understand the issues faced by the community based on their own lived experience of thoughts of suicide.
The program recorded similar spikes in demand during the Religious Discrimination Bill debates.
“Mind Australia is proud to deliver the Aftercare program, which provides valuable recovery-focused support for LGBTIQA+ people who are having thoughts or intentions of suicide. It’s inclusive, it’s affirming and it’s saving lives,” Katie said.
An Aftercare client described the program as an important part of their recovery journey.
“Aftercare was there for me in a time when I felt like I had nothing else,” they said.
“Being able to talk to a peer worker and a psychologist who are both part of the queer community was an important factor in my comfort and recovery post suicide attempt.”
Mind CEO Gill Callister said research demonstrates that LGBTIQ+ people are at increased risk of a range of mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, self-harm and suicide.
“The LBGTIQ+ communities experience discrimination and abuse because of their sexuality and gender.
“We were appalled to see events that have unfolded across the country recently. Events which have platformed dangerous, ignorant and bigoted views and resulted in the resurgence of violence and discrimination towards trans and gender diverse people.
“The continued virulent and discriminatory public commentary about the rights of trans and gender diverse people has real and immediate impacts on people’s mental health and safety.
“Mind Australia stands with trans and gender diverse people and communities.
"Trans rights are not up for debate – they are human rights. The upholding of human rights is vital for a healthy, well and connected community.”
For more information about Aftercare email [email protected] or phone: 1300 286 463. Please note: this phone number is staffed during business hours.
If this article raises concerns for you, please call Qlife on 1800 184 527), Lifeline on 13 11 14 or contact Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.