Given the public debate about same-sex marriage and an influx of homophobic advertising, staff at Headspace Orange found it timely to celebrate Wear it Purple day on Friday.
The event was about showing young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning and asexual (LGBTIQA+) people that there are people who support and accept them.
Headspace workers Neville Atkinson, Verity Morris, Anne Whitehead, Alex Jachau, Isabelle Figuero, Monica Saigi, Bonnie Bassett and Alison Logan invited associated community services to join in the purple themed morning tea.
Program manager Alison Logan said about 40 of its clients identify as LGBTIQA+.
“I think it is clearly something that’s in the media at the moment and there’s lots of passionate opinions about the same-sex marriage debate so I think it’s really opportune that we are there as a support,” Mrs Logan said.
“For the last quarter 18 per cent of the people that are presenting to Headspace are representing as LGBTIQA+.
“Unfortunately this group of people have a higher ranger of mental health issues due to prejudice and discrimination in the community.”
To further help those clients, Mrs Logan said Headspace is starting a LGBTIQA+ social group in late September that will be called a Spectrum Group.
Headspace Orange youth and community engagement officer Verity Morris said the centre’s demographic of 12-25 years is a critical period is a time when uncertainty and questioning of gender identity or sexual preference arise.
“A report through ACON [AIDs Council of NSW] and the Centre for Social Research in Health has warned that this highly prolific postal vote will spark uncensored, homophobic advertising and promotional materials that are damaging to the mental health of our young LGBTIQA+ communities.
“We already know that young people with diverse sexuality, sex and gender have significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicide than the general public so now is the time to show our support and love to our LGBTIQA+ youth.”
For support, phone QLife Australia between 3pm and midnight, everyday on 1800 184 527 or webchat qlife.org.auyou. Visit the Headspace website, drop into the centre at 264 Peisley Street or call 6369 9300.