Depression and anxiety not far below the surface for LGBTI youth

Fair Day is an annual day of celebration for the LGBTI community to mark the beginning of the iconic Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Every year, a melting pot of tens of thousands of people gather together in Victoria Park to celebrate diversity.

As part of this year’s activities, the community was asked to share their top health priorities. Overwhelmingly, mental health was at the core of their struggles. Depression and anxiety are a constant cloud that hangs over many young Australians, particularly LGBTI youth.

 Overwhelmingly, mental health, depression and anxiety are the biggest health concerns for LGBTI community

Overwhelmingly, mental health, depression and anxiety are the biggest health concerns for LGBTI community

Research suggests that when compared to heterosexual people, homosexual and bisexual people are much more likely to experience anxiety (31.5% vs 14.1%) and more than three times more likely to experience depression and related disorders (19% vs 6 %).

For many, it is the result of bullying and harassment which can have a devastating effect on mental and physical health. 

A nationwide study of same-sex attracted (SSA) youth found that nearly 38% of SSA young people had experienced discrimination, while nearly 50% reported experiencing verbal abuse because of their sexuality. Worst of all, 74% of this abuse had occurred at school.

LGBTI youth are not the only victims of bullying at school. Often the bullying relates to the student's personal attributes and how different they are from other students. The list includes, gender, sex, ability (yes that's right, being particularly good at something does not give you immunity to bullying), disability, appearance and culture and religion. That's just about everyone on the entire planet. That's why bullying has got to stop.

On Friday 16 March 2018, Australian schools will stand united in their communities to celebrate the eighth National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence (NDA).

The Bullying No Way website has a huge amount of resources to combat bullying for kids, teachers, and parents.

They encourage kids to speak out, advising that you never need to be alone with bullying and suggest that kids tell someone about what's happening, such as

  • a teacher, guidance counsellor, or your school principal
  • a family member - like your uncle, aunt or grandfather/grandmother.
  • a friend who could help you.

There are also some great organisations helping mental health issues in the community including:

  • MindOUT develops and delivers national suicide prevention initiatives aimed at building the capacity of the mental health and suicide prevention sectors to meet the support and wellbeing needs of LGBTI populations
  • Kids Helpline is a free counselling service specifically for young people
  • Beyond Blue help create mentally healthy environments and support people across Australia – whatever their age and wherever they live.  
  • ReachOut.com provides an online youth mental health service and information, stories and a support network of other young people who have been through tough personal situations.

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