The Queensland Children’s Gender Service has won a mental health achievement award for their work with trans and gender diverse youth.
The Gender Service, part of Children’s Health Queensland, provides the young Queenslanders with multi-disciplinary healthcare.
The team includes child and adolescent psychiatrists, paediatric endocrinologists, social workers, psychologists, mental health nurses, and a speech pathologist.
Last week, the service won the LGBTI Award at this year’s Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards.
Psychologist Olivia Donaghy (above, second from right), who is state-wide service coordinator, said being gender diverse is “part of the natural diversity of humanity.”
“Gender diversity is not a mental illness,” Olivia said.
“But many of the young people we see experience anxiety, depressive symptoms and are at higher risk of suicide.
“[This is] often due to social factors related to their trans identity, such as bullying, micro-aggressions, social isolation or struggles in family attunement to their needs.
“We work closely with young people and their families. We build on their strengths to achieve better social and emotional wellbeing outcomes and grow up happy and healthy.
“Trans youth are amongst the most courageous folk I know.
“Our team is proud to provide affirmative, evidence-informed care to support them and their families navigating a binary world.”
Queensland Children’s Gender Service support ‘life-saving’
Olivia Donaghy said the Queensland Children’s Gender Service began with “a groundswell of parents of trans children and trans community members.”
“The service established its model of care by working with young people and parents to co-design our service,” she explained.
“This involvement continues in the work we do. Young people and their families continue to shape what we do every day.
“They educate us and others and share in the achievements recognised by this award.”
18-year-old Queenslander Leah, a consumer ambassador for the Gender Service, described its support as “life-saving”.
“It’s amazing what the clinic does, and I’m so glad they are here,” Leah said.
As well as working with young people, Olivia Donaghy and her team also provide trans inclusive resources and training statewide.
“Whilst marginalised groups such as the LGBTIQ community experience worse mental health outcomes, together we can eliminate stigma and communicate to these young people that they belong,” she said.
Brisbane Pride and Townsville high school also nominated
For 25 years, the Queensland Mental Health Awards have recognised people and organisations improve the lives of those living with mental illness.
Open Minds have run the Queensland Mental Health Awards since their inception. The Queensland Council for LGBTI Health sponsors the LGBTI Award category.
Other finalists include Brisbane Pride and also Northern Beaches State High School’s rainbow ally group in Townsville.
Open Minds CEO Paula Mayson said the mental health sector has had to respond to the community’s needs more than ever over the past 18 months.
“I am so proud of all the achievements of our finalists this year. They’ve gone above and beyond to help people with mental illness and reduce stigma,” Mayson said.
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
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