Victorian Government Pledges $3.8 million for LGBTIQA+ Mental Health

Victorian Government Pledges $3.8 million for LGBTIQA+ Mental Health

In a move to enhance mental health outcomes for LGBTIQA+ individuals, the Allan Labor Government of Victoria has committed $3.8 million in the 2024/25 budget to sustain critical programs addressing the mental health needs of the LGBTIQA+ community.

This funding aims to support initiatives like Mind Australia’s LGBTIQA+ Aftercare program and Switchboard Victoria’s LGBTIQA+ suicide prevention program, both of which offer essential services to those disproportionately affected by suicide.

Funding for LGBTIQA+ Mental Health Programs: Mind Australia and Switchboard Victoria

The Mind Australia Aftercare program provides a sanctuary for LGBTIQA+ individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts, offering peer-led mental health support, counselling, and psychological services. By adopting a recovery-focused approach, the program aids participants and their families through therapeutic care and recovery strategies.

Additionally, it offers long-term support through group-based programs and peer-led drop-in sessions, ensuring continuous care for as long as needed.

Switchboard Victoria, on the other hand, focuses on postvention and bereavement support, offering counselling in peer-based settings to those who have lost someone to suicide. This program not only helps individuals navigate their grief but also fosters connections with others who have experienced similar losses, creating a supportive community environment.

Minister for Mental Health Ingrid Stitt emphasised the significance of these programs, stating, “This funding is ensuring Mind Australia and Switchboard can continue to provide dedicated mental health support for some of our most vulnerable Victorians – a key priority of Victoria’s landmark Pride in our Future strategy.”

“We know that tragically, LGBTIQA+ Victorians are far more likely to experience mental health issues due to social stigma and discrimination, which is why funding these services are so important.”

The Victorian Government’s commitment extends beyond these programs, building on a $17.7 million investment in the 2023/24 budget aimed at priority suicide prevention and response efforts.

A crucial component of this ongoing support is the expansion of the Rainbow Tick program, a $9.7 million initiative designed to accredit more community and mental health providers under this quality framework.

This expansion ensures that LGBTIQA+ Victorians have access to safe and inclusive services, reflecting the state’s dedication to implementing the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

Minister for Equality Harriet Shing noted, “LGBTIQA+ Victorians are more vulnerable to disadvantage, stigma and trauma but can often struggle to find safe and inclusive services. These peer-led programs make a significant difference to recovery and overall well-being, and are part of our ongoing investment into LGBTIQA+ equality in Victoria.”

Studies indicate that LGBTIQA+ individuals are at a higher risk for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society reports that LGBTIQA+ people are twice as likely to experience depression and anxiety compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Furthermore, the stigma, discrimination, and social exclusion often faced by our community can exacerbate their mental health struggles.

Programs like those offered by Mind Australia and Switchboard Victoria are crucial in providing the specialised support needed to address these challenges. By creating safe, inclusive spaces and employing peer-led approaches, these initiatives foster a sense of community and belonging, which are essential for recovery and well-being.

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