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Improved GLBTI mental health support needed

in NEW ZEALAND, 29/06/2012

New Zealand's mental health services need to be beefed up to be more accessible and more friendly towards glbti people, a just-released report says.

And there is practically no national leadership on important glbti mental health issues, the report notes.

Released by Massey University, the report acknowledges that some gay community organisations do work in this field and "several appear to be well-utilised" but it says mainstream services should be able to provide specifically "glbti-focussed services" and also "general services that are inclusive of and acceptable to glbti people."

After reviewing available data and interviewing numerous glbti mental health stakeholders including gay community organisations already active in this field, the report's authors conclude that "there is very limited leadership evident with respect to mental health issues for glbti people. In addition, no glbti organisation appears suitably positioned to take a national leadership role."

The report highlights already-established strong links between sexual orientation and suicidal behaviours, and the "well-documented negative impacts on the mental health of glbti people arising from stigma and homophobia or trans-phobia" which it describes as "very concerning." It says the safety of young people, "particularly in schools" is of "considerable concern" and it recommends teacher training in suicide prevention, mental health promotion, preventing bullying and challenging homophobia/trans-phobia."

Priorities highlighted in the report include "strengthening individuals’ self-esteem, self-efficacy, life and coping skills, relationships and social connections; strengthening organisations, to ensure environments are inclusive, safe, and supportive; strengthening communities to increase social cohesion, social participation and inclusion; and strengthening whole societies through interventions designed to counter stigma and discrimination and reduce inequalities."

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