National depression initiative beyondblue will sink more than $344,000 into LGBTI mental health research projects.

Announced by beyondblue chair and former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett and Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge yesterday, the money will go to three projects and cover topics including young people’s experience of homophobia in sport, and alcohol use and depression in bisexual and lesbian women.

Victoria University researcher Dr Caroline Symons welcomed a $122,000 grant to study the experiences of young people and if they have been bullied in sport because of their sexuality.

“Our earlier work revealed homophobia is a serious concern in club sport in urbanised areas,” Symons said.

“Now we want to extend the reach of our investigation to look at school sport, PE classes and club sport across Victoria, including country regions.”

The research will follow Symons’ groundbreaking 2010 report, Come Out To Play, which found widespread homophobia in sporting clubs in Victoria and revealed many survey participants said they would avoid certain sports because they were not deemed to be safe environments.

A further $151,439 will go to Melbourne University Associate Professor Ruth McNair to research the relationship between hazardous drinking, depression and anxiety in lesbian and bisexual women, while $71,500 will go to
Drummond Street Services, led by CEO Karen Field, to look at the risk and preventative factors for depression and anxiety in the LGBTI community.

Beyondblue has faced a storm of criticism in recent months over Kennett’s remarks about same-sex parenting. The organisation has also been accused of ignoring depression and anxiety in the LGBTI community in the past.

In response to Kennett’s remarks, two rival fundraising groups, Homovember and Fauxmember, were set up by community members to direct money away from charity group Movember which provides the bulk of its fundraising money to beyondblue.