Support services experiencing massive increase in calls from distressed LGBTIQ youth

drummond street services, a family support agency that provides counselling and support to LGBTIQ people and their families, is experiencing a spike in calls from anxious and distressed youth.

drummond street services CEO Karen Field says, “Since the plebiscite became a regular topic in the media we have doubled our number of clinical cases. Young people are presenting in increasing numbers with anxiety, self-harming behaviours, and thoughts of suicide.”

“Our waiting lists extend for months, though often our staff are having to dispense with the waiting list in order to respond to young people in immediate danger of selfharm or suicide.”

“When politicians weigh in to this debate, or when articles appear in the paper, we experience a spike in calls – as well as posts on our social media – from distressed young people and their worried families” says Field. “And when there are attacks on the very structures created to support them, such as Safe Schools Coalition, it becomes very personal.”

This is a particularly vulnerable group of people. Research from around the world, and by drummond street services itself, finds that individuals in the LGBTIQ community are at a greater risk on a range of health indicators, including mental health, and physical health issues such as diabetes and cancer. As a group they are also less likely to seek help than the mainstream.

Anxiety and depression are particularly common, and many of drummond street’s clients report heightened fear of hearing the next round of debate in the media and being exposed to insulting, demeaning or ignorant comments.

Parents of young clients have said that they are suddenly finding themselves confronted by public hurtful commentary about their children which, in the words of one parent. “feels exactly as though my child is being bullied”.

Field says, “Young LGBTIQ people are listening to politicians and social commentators and it is causing immeasurable distress to them. Our leaders have a responsibility to these vulnerable young people and, like all adults, they need to think carefully about where their words land, and what damage they can do.”

drummond street implores politicians, and others in the media, to take responsibility for the impact of their comments on young and vulnerable members of the LGBTIQ community. This is a time when compassion could save a life.