Volunteers to provide mental health advice to LGBTQ community members

Almost two months after The Humsafar Trust, a group working with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, started an anti-retroviral therapy (ART) clinic for people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), its volunteers will now also provide mental health advice to those in need.

A session was conducted by the group last Friday to discuss mental health issues such as anxiety and stress with outreach volunteers.

“In the session, I tried to make sense of the problems that the community is facing so that a module can be formed on these lines. It was attended by 11 members from one target area,” said Megha Sheth, medical counsellor at The Humsafar Trust.

Sheth added that a need was felt to focus on mental health in the wake of an increasing number of suicides by transgenders.

As a part of the initial training, the volunteers have been taught to be patient, non-judgmental and listen to their clients to get cues on mental health problems being faced by them.

Tinesh Chopade, advocacy manager at the trust, said that a full-fledged plan will be rolled out soon considering there are outreach volunteers in different parts of the city who are working on HIV prevention. “The need to kick-off this idea was felt after a transgender colleague committed suicide because she was suffering from depression. Around 15 volunteers would be shortlisted to run the plan,” said Chopade.

Vivek Raj Anand, CEO of the trust, said the campaign on mental health was held to mark International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17. “Mental health is not discussed in our country. When a person is from a marginalised group, the issues need to be addressed even more because they have a lot more to deal with,” he said.

First Published:
May 28, 2019 12:58 IST

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