Background 20% of transgender Australians and 15% of lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians report current suicidal thoughts. Lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians have up to 14 times higher rates of suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers. For these reasons lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are a specific target group in the Western Australian Mental Health Commission’s Suicide Prevention Strategy.
Description The Mental Health Commission funded two projects to address the needs of this group. The Living Proud project was a community capacity building project designed to increase resilience within the LGBTI community and encourage community members to seek support around mental health and suicide. By itself, this project presented an ethical dilemma: how can we encourage community members to seek help from a profession that often has a poor understanding of their needs and has been the source of much of their stigma. To address this situation a second project was planned to run alongside the first. The Opening Closets Mental Health Training project aimed to increase the skills and LGBTI knowledge of mental health professionals. This dual strategy was crucial to the success of the work.
Results Both the community project and the professional training had excellent engagement and feedback. The work was identified as a best practise example for working with high risk groups and was recognised with a National Suicide Prevention Award.
Conclusions This case study illustrates the importance of working both within a marginalised community and simultaneously addressing broader structural barriers.
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