Working to improve inclusion and reduce mental health tragedies for our LGBTI community members.
Tonight about 40 people, including at least seven Othodoc Rabbis, community leaders, mental health experts and service providers attended a very informative and moving JCCV LGBTI Mental Health Forum.
We heard from speakers and panelists from SANE Australia, Headspace, Jewish Care Victoria, Kesher, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria and Hatzolah. As well as community members and professionals sharing anecdotes and personal stories.
Apart from sharing the terrible statistics for mental health problems and suicide rates for he LGBTI community, and especially our youth, speakers described many of the problems faced:
Lack of Support
Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia
Loss of Family and Community Connections
Which all can lead to self harm, depression and worse.
Young LGBTI youth face FIVE times higher risk of suicide compared to non LGBTI youth.
Rabbi Daniel Rabin, President of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria spoke about inclusion and the need for Rabbis and other community leaders to be welcoming:
"We are all members of the community like letters in a Torah scroll. If one is missing the whole is invalidated."
As one of his LGBTI congregants with young children said to him: "I keep coming back because I don't feel judged."
Speakers spoke about the importance of family and community support, and issues of coming out. As Dr Dov Degen said:
"One day, we wont have to come out as gay, or a particular gender. We will just say, I am Dov , and that will be enough."
Orthodox Psychologist Zippirah Oliver OAM aligned the discussion with Orthodox Jewish values:
Saving a life and Minimizing harm
Loving a fellow Jew
Steps that families and community leaders needed to take included:
Support the vulnerable and those struggling
Don't be judgmental
Provide an inclusive environment
Must name and address the mental health problems
Must have the conversations
Must be careful in your language and display understanding and empathy.