The NSW Government will provide $50,000 to fund a new project aimed at increasing the understanding of mental health issues inside the GLBT community.

Deputy Premier and health minister Carmel Tebbutt presented the grant to ACON to fund early planning and scoping works for the Peace of Mind project which will determine improved strategies to respond to the mental health needs of the GLBT community.

“Research has found that the GLBT community reports higher levels of depression and other mental health problems, and the Peace of Mind project aims to better cater to and address those needs,” Tebbutt said.

“Peace of Mind will focus on improving understanding of GLBT issues among service providers and also improve access and effective treatment opportunities for GLBT people with mental health problems.”

Tebbutt acknowledged ACON’s role in providing counselling, therapy and support services to the GLBT community.

“ACON has been responding to mental health issues for people with HIV, or at risk of HIV, for 25 years,” ACON president Mark Orr said, welcoming the grant.

“Support from the NSW Government through the HIV program for these services has been invaluable. However, there is mounting evidence that our community is disproportionately impacted by mental health problems.”

Orr pointed to the results of the Longitudinal Study of the Health of Australian Women, which found that more than double the number of same-sex attracted women aged 22 to 27 had experienced depression in comparison to similarly-aged heterosexual women.

“Rates of suicide and suicidal ideation for GLBT people are also much higher — up to 14 times higher than heterosexual people,” Orr said.

“The NSW GLBT community will benefit from learning more about mental health problems, how they present, and clarification of the treatment options available as a result of the Peace of Mind initiative and the support for it from the NSW Government.”

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