Youth Pride Network and St John WA partner to improve mental wellbeing among LGBTIQA+ youths
- In WA, 67 per cent of LGBTIQA+ young people described living with a mental illness;
- Only 35 per cent of students felt they could be out at school, according to State of Play II report.
- St John WA (SJWA) donates First Aid for Mental Health course for up to 10 Youth Pride Network (YPN) staff and volunteers in order to help improve the lives of queer young people across WA.
Two-thirds of LGBTIQA+ young West Australians have identified as living with mental illness because of fears around their identity, which St John WA (SJWA) hopes to help overcome in partnership with the Youth Pride Network (YPN).
Ahead of Pridefest and in the wake of WA Mental Health Week (7-14 October), SJWA has donated a First Aid for Mental Health course for up to 10 people aged 17 over at the peer-led LGBTIQA+ youth systemic advocacy organisation, whose mission is to improve the lives of queer young people across WA.
SJWA Chief Preventative Officer Megs O’Donnell said she was proud to partner with YPN due to a shared aim to create a WA where queer young people feel included and accepted by their community.
Working under the umbrella of the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA), YPN is led by a volunteer committee of 15 LGBTIQA+ young people aged 12 to 25 who regularly share their lived experiences to advocate, educate and build broader community connections.
“Providing First Aid for Mental Health will help ensure YPN’s committee members and staff are equipped to support their community throughout their advocacy and enhance their feeling of safety, as well as the safety of their peers,” Ms O’Donnell said.
The YPN recently released their second State of Play report into LGBTIQA+ Young People’s Experiences of High School, which highlighted decreased wellbeing and poor mental health outcomes for LGBTIQA+ students.
“In WA, only 35 per cent of students felt they could be out at school,” said YPN Project & Policy Coordinator Cheyeanne Henderson-Watkins.
“While 67 per cent of LGBTIQA+ young people also described living with a mental illness, which for some students was made worse by the exclusion or bullying they experienced from both peers and teachers for being or coming out as LGBTIQA+.”
In the report, transgender and/or gender fluid students who wished to remain anonymous reported incidents of self harm and the need to continue school studies only online due to bullying.
For YPN Commitee Vice-Chair Jack Meakins doing First Aid for Mental Health with SJWA was an exciting opportunity to learn from experts in the field.
“There is a really strong focus on peer support in the queer community,” he said.
“We often don’t have the best relationships with our families or schools, so it’s really wonderful that we can rely on each other.
“This opportunity will give us a great new set of skills we can use to support other LGBTQIA+ young people.”
To learn more about First Aid for Mental Health visit: stjohnwa.com.au/first-aid-training/mental-health