Extra demand for mental-health services, particularly for LGBTIQ people suffering as a result of the same-sex marriage survey, has resulted in the extension of Mental Health Week in the territory.
Mental Health Week will now be a month-long series of free events.
ACT Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury said the month was designed to cater for the whole community, but for certain minority groups, the message to be mindful of your mental wellbeing was coming at an ideal time.
Mr Rattenbury said the same-sex marriage survey was having an impact on the LGBTIQ community.
“I’ve seen it amongst LGBTIQ people I know, they are finding the plebiscite a very difficult period,” he said.
“They feel it’s unfair that people get to decide on the validity of their relationships. They are finding that there is obviously some very hurtful stuff being said, often online where anonymous people put up things they would never dare say to your face.”
Mr Rattenbury said the events fit in with the theme of “stronger together”, to bring people together in solidarity in what is, for some people, “a really difficult time”.
During the official Mental Health Week from October 8-14, events include a free concert and sausage sizzle at Glebe Park on Sunday, October 8, and on Thursday, October 12 a mental health and wellbeing expo with plenty of free activities will be held in Garema Place.
The Mental Health Community Coalition’s executive officer and coordinator of the series of events, Simon Viereck, said he was impressed so many community groups had jumped on-board this year.
Mr Viereck said the week had changed quite dramatically over the past four years since the coalition had run the events.
“We’ve seen it go from something small and to some degree inward-looking series of events to really being out there in the community, and being visible and culturally diverse as well,” he said.
Mr Viereck said it was a reflection of the changing perceptions of mental illness in the community.
“It’s certainly much more acceptable these days to talk about it,” he said.
“The overall theme this year is stronger together, which really is about recognising that across the breadth of our community, there are people that have mental health issues and struggles without it necessarily being a diagnosable mental illness.
“When we recognise that, and when we pull together as a community, then we are both healthier and stronger as a whole.”
Find the full program of events here.
This piece byKimberley Le Lievre was first seen on ‘ The Sydney Morning Herald’ October 1, 2017.