Equal Guyana has hosted a mental health workshop in an effort to bridge the gap between mental health services and the LGBTQ+ community.
This activity forms part of ongoing Pride activities and marked continuous advocacy and activism for improved access to quality mental health services for LGBTQ+ persons.
The workshop, titled “Be Well; Be you” was hosted in collaboration with the Ministry of Health’s Mental Health Unit and supported by the Canadian High Commission in Guyana.
Jessica Teasdale, acting Charge d’Affaires at the High Commission commended EQUAL Guyana and the Mental Health Unit for “shining a spotlight on the other side of the battles that members of the LGBTQ community silently struggle with in their daily lives”.
She further iterated that “Canada will continue to advocate through the promotion of mutual understanding and respect for diversity, and we can combat hate, prejudice and intolerance; and will continue to stand with human rights organisations on the arduous task of raising awareness for the recognition, equal access to services, safety, security and legal protections for LGBTQ people”.
The workshop also saw a clearer and more structured theory of change being developed to bridge the gap between mental health services and the LGBTQ+ experience, especially through sensitization, education, networking, improved access, and collective positive behavioural change.
Other sessions in Mental Health Gaps, Sexuality and Gender, and Stigma were facilitated by Mercedes Roberts, Director Anil Persaud and Psychologist, Raiza Khan respectively.
The one-day activity set out a precedent for a positive shift in the trajectory of the relationship among human rights organisations, and with the Mental Health Unit.
Participants echoed the need for improved mental health services, noting that LGBTQ+ persons and other vulnerable groups such as women, children, indigenous peoples etc., are the subsections of the Guyanese population who need to benefit from a model of equitable access to services, specifically in response to the daily discrimination and stigma faced by these persons.
The Mental Health Unit has committed to continue making efforts to advance the services offered in an effort to ensure that every person, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, race, religion, socioeconomic status, or any other characteristic can access therapy, counselling or any other mental health service without discrimination and stigma.
EQUAL Guyana since its launch in 2019 has focused extensively on creating spaces for dialogue on LGBTQ mental health, and has even offered free counselling and psychological services to LGBTQ+ persons through a recently concluded Canada Fund for Local Initiatives Project.
Director of EQUAL Guyana, Anil Persaud; Consulting Psychologist, Raiza Khan MSc.; and Admin Officer, Scott Singh have reiterated their commitment to continuous advocacy and activism for the protection of LGBTQ+ rights, and all other human rights.