SPECTRUM Trans and Gender Diverse Mental Health, Wellness and Suicide Prevention Toolkit

Thanks to a generous grant from the Canadian Women’s Foundation, SPECTRUM was able to partner with Wisdom2Action to develop a Trans and Gender Diverse Mental Health, Wellness and Suicide Prevention Toolkit.

In our grant application we noted that, based on the Trans PULSE Study and the local OutLook Study, as well as anecdotal information from our drop-in groups, there was evidence that pre-COVID a large portion of transgender identifying folks in Waterloo Region had not come out of the closet or found that many people in their life were un-supportive or worse, abusive. This in turn subjected these folks to high levels of mental health stress. We recognized that this situation was being aggravated by the isolation due to the COVID-19 public health emergency and the resulting close contact of individuals in un-supportive or abusive environments where they had become a captive audience.

This was the genesis for our project application for which we had two primary objectives:

First, we wanted to develop, publish, and analyse an anonymous community survey asking, among many other things, how COVID-19 isolation was affecting local transgender and non-binary people’s mental and physical health. From this group of respondents, we also wanted to interview a select few to do a deeper dive on mental health challenges. In addition, the Wisdom2Action team conducted an in-depth literature review. The information collected was used to shape the toolkit.

The second part of this project was to develop a toolkit focused on mental health promotion and suicide prevention to be used by transgender identifying folks (people in crisis), and mental health and medical health professionals and transgender allies (people who support those in crisis). We felt such information organized into a toolkit would be very useful to the community during and after the public health emergency.

On September 28, 2021, we held a community forum to share details about the information we gathered and the process of designing the toolkit. You can watch a recording of this session here.

The toolkit is now being printed and we will send physical copies to all local schools, hospitals, community counselling agencies, family health teams, and many social service agencies. A digital version of the toolkit is available to everyone for download here.

SPECTRUM would like to thank the Wisdom2Action team for their hard work in bringing this valuable toolkit to life in a very short space of time. We are also extremely grateful to the Canadian Women’s Foundation for recognizing the importance of this work and making it possible.

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World Suicide Prevention Day: Suicide Facts and Prevention Resources

Warning: This post is about suicide which can be a difficult topic.

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day – an internationally-observced day to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention around the world. According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention, “one in every 100 deaths worldwide is the result of suicide.” 

Because of stigma, discrimination, and lack of family and community support, LGBTQ Canadians have a much higher risk for suicide:

  • The Canadian Mental Health Association reports that LGBTQ people face “Higher rates of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and phobic disorders, suicidality, self-harm, and substance use among LGBT people.”
  • Additionally, Egale reports that “LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.”
  • Huffington Post reports that “… more than 75 per cent of completed suicides in Canada are made by men, and men still tend to use mental health services at a significantly lower rate than women. Evidence suggests that certain male demographics have particularly high rates of mental health issues. One of these is gay men.”
  • A BMC Public Health article reports that around 50 per cent of gay men had experienced suicidal ideation. This is more than six times higher than the reported rates for heterosexual men. 

If you are struggling with your mental health or having thoughts of suicide, you CAN get help. 

Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Resources:

For 2SLGBTQ+ people in crisis:

  • If you are in crisis you can connect with Here 24/7 at 1.844.437.3247. 
  • For ongoing counselling, here in Waterloo Region, the OK2BME program at KW Counselling Services provides specialized counselling services to 2SLGBTQ+ youth at no cost. SPECTRUM has established the Chrysalis Mental Health Fund which helps to subsidize the cost of OK2BME counselling for 2SLGBTQ+ adults in our community. To get started with OK2BME counselling you can complete their online intake form or call 519.884.0000.
  • For those who are able to pay for counselling service, there are many local private practitioners. You can find contact information at Psychology Today. Those who are specialists in 2SLGBTQ+ issues will list it in their profiles.
  • Within our limited capacity, SPECTRUM works to help local 2SLGBTQ+ people find community and an increased sense of belonging. Be sure to check out our events calendar to find peer support groups, drop-ins, and various social groups you can join.

Additional Educational Resources and Ways to Support 2SLGBTQ+ mental health

  • Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council has put together a page on the risk factors and warning signs of suicidality, here. Their website also has many other resources to help promote well-being and self-care and handle stress.
  • Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council will be livestreaming a World Suicide Prevention Day ceremony on September 10th at 6pm on their Facebook page
  • If you would like to donate to SPECTRUM’s Chrysalis Mental Health Fund to help someone access counselling services you can do so here.
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