Improving and supporting the mental health of people in LGBTQ communities will be at the centre of a wide range of events being held by ACON – NSW’s leading health organisation for people of diverse sexualities and genders – during Mental Health Month.
Mental Health Month is observed annually in October to promote the importance of early intervention practices for positive mental health and wellbeing, and reduce the stigma associated with mental health. This year, the awareness initiative bears even greater significance with the advent of COVID-19 and its impacts on people’s mental health.
From 1-31 October, ACON is hosting a range of activities to shine a light on LGBTQ mental health, including:
Mental Health Matters Rainbow Inclusion Award – Award Sponsor
ACON is a proud sponsor of the Rainbow Inclusion Award at WayAhead’s Mental Health Matters Awards. The award recognises mental health programs, projects or initiatives that demonstrate commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of sexuality and gender diverse people.
Mental Health Month WayAhead Small Grants Scheme – Grants Sponsor
ACON is a proud sponsor of the WayAhead’s annual Mental Health Month Small Grants Scheme. Grants are provided for mental health projects specifically focusing on sexuality and gender diverse communities.
Mental Health and COVID – Campaign Launch
ACON will release a micro campaign on mental health. Comprising a digital resource, videos and tip sheets, the campaign will offer practical strategies on improving mental health during COVID-19.
Western Sydney LGBTQ Wellbeing and Inclusion Research Project – Report Launch and Virtual Event
ACON will launch a new report exploring the mental health experiences of LGBTQ communities in Western Sydney. Findings will be explored at a virtual event featuring community panellists and health experts in late October.
Western Sydney Rainbow Connection Network – Launch
In partnership with local community groups and health organisations, ACON is launching a new network for sexuality and gender diverse communities in Penrith, to connect service providers and community members in Western Sydney. Virtual launch is on 22 October.
Trans Pride in a Pandemic – Online Forum
Continuing in October is ‘Trans Pride in a Pandemic’, a four-part online forum series for trans and gender diverse people and our allies. Developed in partnership by ACON and Trans Pride Australia, with funding support by the City of Sydney. Forums are on 8 and 24 October.
Sydney Women’s and Sexual Health Survey – Report Launch and Virtual Event
ACON will present findings of the latest Sydney Women’s and Sexual Health Survey (SWASH), including data on LGBTQ mental health, at a virtual forum on 28 October.
‘We Thank You’ Honour Awards Campaign – Video Series
ACON’s Honour Awards will release its online videos series ‘We Thank You’ showcasing unsung community heroes whose work and efforts supported the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities during the pandemic. Series launches on 19 October.
Pride Counselling – Launch
During Mental Health Month, ACON will launch Pride Counselling, a new social enterprise fee-for-service offering providing counselling support to LGBTQ community members looking for an inclusive service option.
LGBTQ Suicide Prevention for GPS eLearning – Launch
ACON Pride Training is launching a free online course for GPs in NSW to build capacity in suicide prevention for LGBTQ communities. The eLearning module is designed to increase GPs’ understanding of suicide risk factors for LGBTQ people and boost baseline skills and knowledge around assessing suicide risk, responding to distress and suicidality.
Collage Club – Virtual Event
ACON’s LOVE Project, which works to provide social support for older LGBTQ people, will host an 8-week virtual program on collage-making. The workshop is available for older LGBTQ people to help facilitate social connection and reduce isolation. Start 2 October.
Tuning in Self – Art Therapy Workshop for LGBTQ Mental Health
LGBTQ people in the Hunter region are invited to take part in an art workshop to support their mental health and wellbeing. The workshop will use creative techniques such as drawing and painting to explore the present and the world around us. Facilitated by a qualified art therapist with all supplied provided. 31 October at ACON in Newcastle.
Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium – Virtual Presentation
ACON’s Regional Outreach Team will present at the Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium (26-28 October) exploring ACON’s outreach work in supporting the mental health of LGBTQ communities in regional NSW.
#GettingThroughThisTogether – Supporting National Mental Health Commission Campaign
Throughout Mental Health Month, ACON will support the National Mental Health Commission’s campaign #GettingThroughThisTogether through its vast social media network.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said: “Research shows that LGBTQ people are at a significant increased risk of a range of preventable mental health problems, including depression, anxiety disorders, self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicide, much of which has been attributed to experiences or fears of social exclusion, prejudice and abuse. Because of the pandemic, these mental health issues have been exacerbated for many in our communities.
“We also know that many LGBTQ people are reluctant to seeks professional help because of stigma and discrimination.
“Mental Health Month provides us with an important opportunity to raise awareness and facilitate a discussion around mental health in LGBTQ communities, reduce stigma associated with mental health, and remind LGBTQ people that assistance is there for those who need it. We understand these are challenging times for many, so reach out if you are experiencing distress or in need of support,” Parkhill said.