Mental Health

We’re here to help LGBTI people and people with HIV take control of their mental health by providing a range of counselling services and a care coordination program for people with complex needs.

Information

Mental Health Basics

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While many sexuality and gender diverse people live happy, healthy and productive lives, there are a range of preventable experiences of mental distress which affect a disproportionate number of people in the LGBTQ communities compared to the general population. 

According to La Trobe University’s Private Lives 3 study, our communities report much higher rates of mental health challenges, particularly depression and anxiety, high and very high levels of psychological distress as well as suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, than is observed in studies of the general population in Australia. Within our communities, trans and gender diverse people experience higher rates of distress than cisgender people, and pansexual and bisexual people tend to report higher levels of distress than those who identify as gay or lesbian.  

TransHub is a digital information and resource destination for all trans and gender diverse (TGD) people, loved ones, allies and health providers, and has more information on mental health and trans and gender diverse people 

‘Dealing With Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19’ Resource

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) may lead to stress and anxiety for some of us. Feeling overwhelmed by strong emotions during times like these is totally understandable. Coping with distress and fear in a healthy way will help ensure that you, your loved ones and everyone in our communities stay strong and resilient during this time. To assist our communities, we’ve developed a resource on how to deal with stress and anxiety during COVID-19. 

Dealing With Stress During COVID-19 PDF

Dealing With Stress During COVID-19 JPG

Dealing With Stress During COVID-19 TEXT ONLY

How To Rise Above The Noise Of The “Religious Freedoms” Debate Resource

In light of the likely emotional distress being caused by the harmful debate surrounding “religious freedoms”, ACON has put together support resources that we hope will help everyone within our communities, particularly LGBTIQ people of colour and of faith, who may find themselves most vulnerable to hate speech at this time.

You can download the full-sized resources below:

Rising Above PDF

Rising Above JPG

Rising Above Text Only PDF

Trans and Strong Resource

Following a worryingly high amount of recent negative media coverage attacking trans and gender diverse (TGD) people, we developed the ‘Trans and Strong’ resilience resource for TGD community members, friends, family and allies to support them through what may be a very trying time.

Trans and Strong PDF

Trans and Strong Text-Only PDF

More support and information for trans and gender diverse people, allies, and health providers can be found at TransHub. 

Summer Holiday Safety Tips

We’ve put together a three-part guide to help our LGBTQ communities have the best and safest Summer holiday period possible. There are guides offering handy and practical tips on how to manage:

The Rainbow Mental Health Lived Experience Network

Do you consult and design mental health programs?
Want help to understand the lived experience of sexuality and gender diverse people?
ACON’s Rainbow Mental Health Lived Experience Network can help

How can the Rainbow Mental Health Lived Experience Network engage with your organisation? 

People across NSW have called for our mental health and social services to be centred on the people who use them.  To achieve this, we must embrace the participation, influence and leadership of people with lived experience of mental distress in service design, delivery, monitoring, reporting, research, evaluation and improvement activities.  

As a network of individuals with lived experience of mental distress, The Rainbow Mental Health Lived Experience Network gives the broader mental health sector an increased capacity to engage with people of diverse genders and sexualities in processes of service co-design, consultation work, and focus groups. There is a fee for service; network members are paid for their time.  

Our Lived Experience Network can help with: 

  • Consumer/client consultations  
  • Focus group testing 
  • Feedback on resources and materials 
  • Provide their experiences and ideas for service improvement 
  • Guest speaker engagements

What is the Rainbow Mental Health Lived Experience Network? 

The Rainbow Mental Health Network is a group of sexuality and gender diverse individuals with lived experience of mental distress. The Network currently comprises 32 people from across NSW, including Sydney, Western Sydney, Hunter, South Coast, Northern Rivers and Murrumbidgee regions. The network can be engaged in person, by phone, or online.  

How was the Rainbow Mental Health Lived Experience Network established? 

People of diverse sexualities and genders experience higher levels of preventable mental distress than other population groups due to minority stress, the cumulative experience of violence, stigma, harassment and invisibility.  

With seed funding provided by the Mental Health Commission NSW, in 2019 ACON trained a group of sexuality and gender diverse people with lived experience of mental distress to advocate and represent their communities, with a goal to shift mental health service cultures and assumptions. The Rainbow Mental Health Lived Experience Network was formed. 

Get in contact 

You can engage the Rainbow Mental Health Lived Experience Network by contacting Lucy Watson, community health promotion officer of Mental Health Programs at ACON: Lwatson@acon.org.au  

 

Download the Rainbow Mental Health Lived Experience Network flyer here

We’re With You: Looking Out for Our Mental Health

LGBTQ people have a long history of caring and looking out for each other. As we’ve weathered the storm of a difficult year, looking out for each other’s mental health is crucial. We spoke to community members about their mental health this year and how they care for each other while caring for themselves. 

Find out more about our We’re With You mental health campaign here.

Services

HIV Counselling

counselling

We provide FREE and confidential short term counselling (up to 12 sessions) for:

  • People with HIV
  • People at risk of HIV
  • People affected by HIV (e.g. partners, family and friends)
  • People testing for HIV

We prioritise:

  • People newly diagnosed with HIV
  • Financially disadvantaged people
  • People experiencing health or relationship needs related to HIV
  • People experiencing the effects of a recent trauma, domestic/family violence or homophobic/transphobic violence

Counsellors use a solutions focused model drawing on a range of approaches to best meet the needs of individuals and couples.

To access this service, you will need to undergo a brief assessment in person or over the phone.

For more information or to undertake an intake assessment, please contact your nearest ACON office or to enquire about making an appointment click here.

Coronavirus update: Due to social distancing requirements, all ACON counselling and support services will be conducted virtually or over the phone.

LGBTIQ Counselling and Support

Counselling

We provide confidential fee-based short term counselling (up to 12 sessions) for LGBTIQ people seeking support in relation to their mental health and wellbeing. Volunteer counsellors use a solutions focused model and a range of therapeutic approaches to better equip people to deal with life’s challenges.

Fees for this service are negotiated according to individual circumstances, and priority is given to people on low incomes or with limited options.

LGBTIQ counselling in Sydney is available Tues and Thurs evenings. For appointment options in regional NSW please contact the relevant office.

Unfortunately this service is not suitable for:

  • People who use violence
  • People with unmanaged or unsupported mental illness or substance use

To access this service, you will need to undergo a brief assessment in person or over the phone.

For more information or to undertake a brief assessment please contact your nearest ACON office or submit an enquiry.

 

If you are experiencing prejudice related violence or harassment here are some options for counselling and support:

  • ACON provides counselling as well as social work support to help people resolve complex or ongoing violence and harassment matters. Call 9206 2000 to make an appointment.
  • QLife provides anonymous and free LGBTI peer support and referral for people wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. For more information click here.
  • ICLC can provide legal support such as assistance with preparing an Apprehended Personal Violence Order. For more information click here.
  • Lifeline provides 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services to all Australians experiencing a personal crisis. For more information click here.

Substance Support Counselling

support

We provide confidential FREE short-term counselling (up to 12 sessions) for sexuality and gender diverse people and people with HIV seeking support in relation to their use of alcohol and other drugs.

Our counsellors work from a harm reduction approach to assist clients reach their goals to manage use, reduce or quit.

This service is offered face to face in Sydney. It is also available via telehealth for individuals living in Sydney or across regional NSW.

To access this service, you will need to undergo a brief assessment in person or over the phone.

For more information or to undertake a brief assessment please contact our Sydney office or submit an enquiry.

Coronavirus update: Due to social distancing requirements, all ACON counselling and support services will be conducted virtually or over the phone.

Suicide Prevention and Aftercare

Are you finding yourself thinking or recovering from suicidal thoughts or self-harm?

Have you recently been discharged from hospital after a suicide attempt?

Are you concerned about a LGBTI loved one?

Would you like further support?

We offer a FREE and confidential suicide prevention and aftercare service comprising non-judgmental short term care coordination support for LGBTI people aged over 18 years of age.

  • This service is for people who have recently made a suicide attempt or at high risk of suicide.
  • The service operates during business hours only. For more information contact our intake officer on 9206 2000 or email intake@acon.org.au

For support outside of business hours or for crisis support please contact:

  • Emergency assistance: (triple zero) 000
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
  • NSW Mental Health Access Line: 1800 011 511
  • QLife: 1800 184 527
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 043 470

This service is funded by the NSW Ministry of Health for Sydney and South Eastern Sydney LHDs and St Vincent’s Health Network regions.

Legacies of Suicide Workshop Series

So many of us carry the legacies of suicide whether from the death of a friend, family member, colleague, lover or through a more distant connection, without a shared space to make sense of them. Our upcoming series of workshops, Outrageous Loss, Outrageous Courage, aims to create that shared space.

The workshops will be facilitated by two members of the Lismore LGBTIQ community – Anand Anderson and Beth Cronin. StandBy – Support After Suicide will be available for support after each session.

  1. Online: Three evening workshops Tuesdays 11, 18, & 25 August, 7 – 8.30pm.
  2. Face to Face:Saturday 10 & 17 October, 10am – 12.30pm.

For more information and to register, click here.

Care Coordination

care coordination

Our Care Coordinators are allied health professionals who can help clients with multiple and/or complex needs to:

  • Access relevant healthcare and support services
  • Increase their ability to manage their care and treatment
  • Reduce social isolation

Needs may include:

  • HIV
  • Mental health
  • Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Housing
  • Family/domestic violence
  • Finances
  • Legal

Care coordinators work with clients over 3 months to develop a care plan and provide support to help clients achieve their goals and meet their needs

This service is FREE and confidential.

Priority is given to people with HIV, and people at risk or affected by HIV

Our Care Coordinators work in Sydney at our office in Surry Hills as well as the Taylor Square Private Clinic and Holdsworth House Medical Practice in Darlinghurst.

To access this service, you will need to undergo a brief assessment in person or over the phone.

For more information or to undertake a brief intake assessment, please contact our Sydney office 02 9206 2000 to enquire about making an appointment click here.

 

Regional NSW

Our care coordinators also work in the Hunter and Northern Rivers regions of NSW.

To access this service, you will need to undergo a brief assessment in person or over the phone.

For more information or to undertake a brief assessment please contact our Hunter or Northern Rivers offices or submit an enquiry.