Supporting Transgender Australians with their Mental Health

November 16, 2022

Australia has long been commended for the cultural diversity of its population. People from all over the world continue to seek to live on our sunny shores. However, in 2022, diversity is no longer limited to one’s race or religion, with the concept now extending to acknowledge and celebrate our differences in terms of sexual orientation and gender.

It’s not always easy to see on the surface, but unfortunately discrimination of the LGBTQIA+ community still exists in Australia, and it is perpetuating a mental health crisis for those who identify as anything other than heteronormative. For those who identify as transgender, the risk of developing a mental illness is particularly high.

Contrary to what some believe, being transgender does not cause someone to suffer mental health issues. The trauma experienced as a result of being trans does. Despite some progress, trans people continue to suffer from ongoing abuse, discrimination and bullying, experiences which put people at a much higher risk of anxiety, depression, C-PTSD and suicide. Continually being hurt, made to feel different, or ashamed of who we inherently are, can put us in a state of high alert at all times, and can lead to increased loneliness and isolation as we retreat, and take protective measures to avoid experiencing further trauma.

In Australia, alarming new statistics that show that as a nation, we need to be doing far more to reduce the stigma, discrimination and abuse experienced by those in the transgender community.

The rate at which our trans community are verbally, physically and/or sexually abused is at an all-time high, with these traumatic experiences leading to significant increases in diagnoses such as anxiety and depression, or addiction. Sadly, new research shows that a staggering 90% of young transgender and gender diverse people reported to be experiencing high levels of psychological distress. Depression diagnosis amongst trans people is now reported to be over 50%. That’s over 50% too many.

Because transgender people are far more likely to have been subject to trauma during their lifetime, the need for access to treatment services that affirm and support is pertinent. It was reported in a recent study that fear of discrimination means that nearly a third of trans people choose not to seek necessary professional mental health support.

1 in 3 transgender adults also report having attempted suicide in their lifetime. The need for LGBTQIA+ safety, inclusion and support in mental healthcare in has never been so urgent.

‘Many trans people will suffer complex post-traumatic stress as a result of their gender or sexual orientation. That trauma is not always experienced at a societal level either, it’s often institutional’ says Andrea Szasz, Program Director at South Pacific Private. ‘That’s why at South Pacific Private, as a Rainbow Tick Accredited treatment centre we are constantly evolving to ensure that every client who seeks help with us is treated with the respect they deserve and that they feel safe at all times’ says Andrea.

‘We work closely with our clients from the get-go, ensuring that staff do not assume gender or pronouns, their preferred name is used at all times and we also offer weekly support sessions for our Rainbow community’ says Andrea. ‘We need to ensure that the stigma and discrimination against trans individuals is addressed urgently, the statistics are frightening and frankly, as a nation, we’re not doing enough yet.’

This Sunday, 20th of November is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. At South Pacific Private we will acknowledge and remember those who lost their lives. If you, or someone you know is struggling, reach out to our Intake Team on 1800 063 332 or take a free self-assessment. You can find out more here about how South Pacific Private is innovating cultural safety within the mental health sector here.

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Learn more about key indicators of addiction, trauma and mental health conditions by taking an assessment for yourself, or on behalf of a loved-one.

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