15 April 2022

Young LGBTIQ+ people with mental health concerns who are living in Wodonga region will have a unique opportunity to help themselves and others through a new educational program from Mind Australia.

In Rainbow Recovery, young participants will work together with a trained facilitator to develop and participate in a Mind Youth Recovery College learning module exploring coming out and gender identity.

“Young people who are exploring their sexuality and/or gender identity often report feeling isolated and unsafe, especially in rural or regional areas. This program is designed for them.” said Kim Salter, the program’s coordinator and Learning and Development Coordinator for the Mind Recovery College.

Although many LGBTIQ+ Australians live healthy and happy lives, research has shown that a disproportionate number experience poorer mental health outcomes and have higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers. These health outcomes are directly related to experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse on the basis of being LGBTIQ+.

“Young LGBTIQ+ people are particularly vulnerable. Compared to the general population, LGBTIQ+ young people aged 16 to 17 were almost five times more likely to have attempted suicide in their lifetime and transgender people aged 14-25 are 15 times more likely to have attempted suicide,” Ms Salter said.

“The statistics for self-harm among young LGBTIQ+ people are similarly disproportionate, which shows just how important programs like this can be to support young people through this sensitive period of their development.”

“Young regional LGBTIQ+ people often don’t know how to find support, or have the formal and informal networks they need. They may be fearful about 'coming out' to others, or not confident in how to share what is happening for them with their family or friends.”

Trying to tackle these sensitive issues alone is really tough, but Rainbow Recovery will give young people that support and connection and a safe space to think about and discuss coming out and gender identity.

Rainbow Recovery has been funded by VicHealth as part of their $5 million The Big Connect program, designed to support mental health, wellbeing and create social connections for Victoria’s young people.

“The isolation young LGBTIQ+ people experience has been exacerbated by the pandemic, as opportunities to interact with others have been severely impacted so we are delighted VicHealth has funded this program,” Ms Salter said.

Whilst the primary target is young people, the resource will also have a module targeted at parents about how to support their young family member in their journey.

The project will also partner with LGBTQI+ initiatives at a local and state-wide level, to give participants immediate knowledge about formal avenues for support.

The Rainbow Recovery program is based on the award winning Mind Recovery College model. The Mind Recovery College® is the first of its kind in Australia. Clients choose from a suite of mental health and wellbeing courses designed to address their needs. Content is co-designed, and primarily delivered by peer-facilitators who use their mental health lived experience to inform their teaching.

Mind Australia is one of the largest providers of community-managed psychosocial services in Australia. It provides individualised, evidence-based and recovery focussed support to more than 11,000 people experiencing mental health and wellbeing concerns in Australia every year.

Mind is currently recruiting a trained facilitator for Rainbow Recovery and will advise how to get involved on the Mind website in coming weeks. People interested in finding out more can call Mind Connect on 1800 286 463 from late May.

“Best of all, participants involved in the co-design of the Rainbow Recovery module can be trained to become facilitators themselves. Building the confidence to go on and facilitate a course for the benefit of others is so empowering,” Ms Salter said. Watch a WIN TV news story about Rainbow Recovery here.