Sector News Stigma Reduction — 24 September 2015

Some of Australia’s leading health and ageing researchers have collaborated with beyondblue to draw attention to the significant mental health issues facing older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Australians.

A series of education resources targeting aged care service providers and their staff have been produced to raise awareness of the experience of anxiety and depression among this client group.

The resources were developed from a literature review and interviews with 30 older gay, lesbian and transgender people who have experienced depression and anxiety, and have been piloted with health professionals and reviewed by an advisory committee of consumer advocates.

The resource kit provides information on:

  • the factors that contribute to anxiety and depression, including those related to gender identity and sexuality and the impact that has on a person’s life.
  • why older LGBTI people may not feel comfortable disclosing or discussing their gender identity or sexuality; and why others may wish to.
  • what strategies older LGBTI people use to cope with anxiety and depression.
  • what older LGBTI people may fear when accessing aged care or mental health services.
  • practical things service provider staff can do to ensure LGBTI inclusive service.

The researchers said older LGBTI people experienced higher rates of depression and anxiety than the general community and this may add to the complexity of their care needs.

“Many LGBTI people may be anxious and reluctant to access aged care and mental health services, as they expect to encounter stigmatisation and discrimination. This means they may be reluctant to disclose their gender identity, sexual orientation or intersex status,” they said.

“Service providers should keep an open mind and make a space for older people to disclose their social histories and care needs if and when they choose.”

The free education materials consist of a PowerPoint presentation, ‘Life Stories’ discussion activity developed from real-life interviews, facilitator notes and a project report, which can be used in staff training.

The project funded by beyondblue was a partnership between the National Ageing Research Institute, the Australian Research Centre for Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University, and the RMIT School of Mental Health.

Download the comprehensive set of resources, ‘Improving mental health for older LGBTI Australians’ from the beyondblue website.

This article first appeared on ‘Australian Ageing Agenda’ on 23 September 2015.

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