Going Upstream: A Framework for Promoting the mental health of LGBTI people

Going Upstream

This document provides a framework that aims to specifically guide the development and implementation of strategies for the promotion of mental health and wellbeing and prevention of mental health problems in LGBTI Australians. The document draws on a growing body of Australian and international research on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI people and identifies key factors known to have particular influence on mental health for these communities. A core theme is the effects of deeply held prejudice and discrimination on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI people and the need for health policy to incorporate this understanding in the development and delivery of LGBTI-inclusive mental health promotion programs.

An LGBTI mental health promotion strategy must address these social determinants of reduced mental health among LGBTI people, including deeply embedded heterosexist beliefs and practices. It must also build on the capacity of LGBTI people and organisations to develop social relationships and networks within the LGBTI community and between the LGBTI community and the mainstream. Such individual and collective relationships are a source of resilience and social capital that act as protective factors against the increased risk of mental ill-health and suicidal behaviours for LGBTI people.

As many of the factors influencing mental health lie outside of the health system, this framework necessarily encourages partnerships with individuals and organisations in other sectors and settings. It outlines a range of initiatives, and while the framework recognises supporting individuals to develop skills for good mental health, it emphasises that actions must also focus on creating environments that are conducive to mental health and wellbeing through advocacy, legislative reform, capacity building and community strengthening.

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