Beyondblue has provided a major funding injection of $1.2 million into LGBTI research grants, continuing its campaign of highlighting mental health issues in the gay community

Six research projects focusing on LGBTI people were revealed today, with a contribution of $240,000 from Movember for a study into the effects of prostate cancer on mental health in older gay men.

Beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said research had identified a need for research specifically looking at the LGBTI community’s mental health needs.

“Our research shows that discrimination and bullying significantly contribute to depression, anxiety and the risk of suicide among GLBTI people,” Carnell said.

“Same-sex attracted, sex and gender diverse people face widespread discrimination just for being themselves. Both subtle and overt prejudice and discrimination are major contributors to much higher rates of depression and anxiety amongst GLBTI communities than in the general population.

“GLBTI people are two to three times more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the broader population and are at greater risk of suicide and self-harm.”

Dr Briony Dow from the National Ageing Research Institute in Victoria which received a grant of just over $200,000 for a study into the mental health needs of older LGBTI people said funding for such projects was hard to come by.

“We were particularly pleased to see they had made this a priority driven area,” she told the Star Observer.

Dow said there was a lack of research into older LGBTI Australians and their needs.

“There’s been work with younger LGBTI people around mental health issues but not nearly as much with older people,” Dow said.

“So our idea is to talk to older LGBTI people to really explore their lived experience of mental health issues, particularly depression and anxiety and get them to tell us about what has helped including family members and health professionals.”

Other projects being funded included; the mental health needs of young LGBTI people, a study into suicide rates and prevention in LGBTI people, transgender mental health and improved online therapies.

Beyondblue has been desperately trying to reach out to the LGBTI community this year, having already donated tens of thousands of dollars to Sydney Mardi Gras as part of a sponsorship deal.

The organisation battled claims of homophobia for years following revelations it was denying funding to LGBTI mental health programs, and a series of embarrassing comments about the LGBTI community by its chairman, former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett.

The situation was not helped when beyondblue CEO Dawn O’Neil resigned last year, just eight months in to the job, following comments by Kennett criticising gay and lesbian parents’ ability to raise children.

It was later revealed O’Neil, a former head of Lifeline, had resigned after complaining that she was being bullied by Kennett, however the beyondblue board found no evidence of this and stood by him.

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