The National LGBTI Health Alliance is pleased to announce the commencement of the Lifeguard Project for Australian communities of gay men.
Working with beyondblue and the Movember Foundation, the Alliance will foster a community conversation and educate gay men across Australia in an effort to tackle the alarming rates of depression, anxiety and suicide within this community.
The Lifeguard Project will give gay men the confidence, knowledge and skills to become ‘Lifeguards’ in their social networks, to support themselves, and their partners and friends, if they are struggling.
It will do this through a highly interactive online toolkit containing practical strategies, advice and actions. To recognise the diversity of gay identities and communities, the project team will be working closely with gay communities to develop the toolkit, which is expected to be trialled in 2015.
The $410,000 project is funded by beyondblue with donations from the Movember Foundation.
Research shows that gay men often see their friends struggling with anxiety and depression but lack the confidence to reach out to them.
“I saw him struggle with his anxiety and watched helplessly as the depression gradually took hold of him and dragged him down. I wanted to help, but didn’t know how. I feared if I spoke about it directly, I would just make it more real for him and make it worse. Having somewhere I could go to learn how to help would have given me the confidence knowing when and how to better support my mate.” – Jason, 43, Sydney.
Rebecca Reynolds, Executive Director of the National LGBTI Health Alliance said; “This project will provide a whole new level of support to gay male identified individuals and communities by encouraging them to be confident to know how and when to help their mates experiencing anxiety and depression and how and when to encourage their mates to seek help and support.”
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said; “Lifeguard will be an important new tool that is specifically made with and speaks to gay men. It will help build a national community of action takers as it builds gay men’s understanding of anxiety and depression. We hope it will make lives better and even save lives.”
Movember Foundation’s Asia Pacific Director Jeremy Macvean said; “Research shows that gay men experience significantly higher levels of psychological distress than the general population. This project will help address that and in turn reduce male suicide. We‘re very proud to be associated with this kind of work, thanks to the funds raised by Movember’s Mo Bros and Mo Sistas.”
If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, you can learn more and develop an action plan at www.beyondblue.org.au/pride. You can speak to a peer community counsellor through the QLife Project on 1800 184 527 or via web chat at www.qlife.org.au. QLife operates 7 days a week from 5:30 – 10:30pm across Australia.
Mental health professionals with the beyondblue Support Service are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1300 22 4636 or by webchat from 3pm to midnight.
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