Acon Peace of mind ProjectA new alliance between ACON and the Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) and National LGBTI Health Alliance and Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria delivers improved mental health for LGBT people.

A new education program is aiming to reduce the impact of mental distress in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community by helping people improve their understanding of mental health and their ability to help people experiencing mental health issues.

Launching later this month, the Peace of Mind program includes a series of free workshops being delivered throughout NSW which will help LGBT people identify when their family and friends are experiencing mental distress and how they can offer support.

Acting ACON CEO Geoff Honnor says the program is a preventative measure designed to help people recognise the signs of mental health distress.

“Current research shows that LGBT people are more likely to experience mental health issues than people in the general community,” Mr Honnor says.

“For example, LGBT 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.

What we know from the broader mental health field is that supportive personal networks are one of 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.

“Through the program, we will also be providing cultural sensitivity training for health care workers in mainstream services so they can meet the needs of LGBT people more effectively.”

“A trial of the program earlier this year got a terrific response from participants and we anticipate a lot of interest so I encourage people to register for a place as soon as possible.”

Three different workshops will be made available to community members in a variety of locations across NSW and all workshops are free of charge.

1) Mental Health Connect

This workshop is about understanding the experience of mental distress and supporting people who experience mental health problems. This one (1) day workshop will be run in 10 locations across NSW on selected Saturdays between July and December.

2) Rainbow Blues

This workshop provides some insights into understanding depression and anxiety, why it seems to affect more LGBTI people, helpful hints on living with depression and how to support someone who is depressed or has an anxiety disorder. This two (2) hour workshop will be run in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and Lismore on selected dates between September and November.

3) From Dying to Thriving 

This workshop aims to help participants have a greater understanding of suicide and respond confidently to someone experiencing major psychological distress or suicidal thinking. This one (1) day workshop will be run in Sydney and Lismore on selected Saturdays during October and November.

An additional introductory workshop is also available for service providers within the mental and allied health sector who would like to better understand and respond to GLBT people experiencing mental health issues. This is a four (4) hour workshop that can be run on request.

For more information about workshop times and locations and/or to register to attend a workshop, please visit Peace Of Mind